Paula Stone

 

Paula1 A true female pioneer in low budget western movies, Paula Stone never managed to outgrow that male dominated genre to become a proper dramatic actress. Lacking in substantial roles, her career ended after just a years in Hollywood. Luckily, she expanded her expertise on other mediums: radio, television and the theater, and pretty soon she became a businesswoman worth admiring!

EARLY LIFE:

Paula Beach Stone was born on January 20, 1912,  in New York City to Fred A. Stone and his wife, Allene Crater. Paula came from a very interesting family, as both of her parents were people in unusual occupation of that time.

Her mother, Allene Crater “Allie” was born Dec. 28, 1876 at Denver, CO, the fourth child of George E. and Alverah Hatten Crater. She had two brothers, Clarence L. and George Edwin, Jr. (a prominent international lawyer) and a sister Edith. Edith was married to the novelist Rex Beach. Edith and Allene were very close.

Her father, Fred Stone, was well.. Maybe it’s best to quote Wikipedia on the issue:

Fred Andrew Stone (August 19, 1873 – March 6, 1959) was an American actor. Stone began his career as a performer in circuses and minstrel shows, went on to act on vaudeville, and became a star on Broadway and in feature films, which earned him a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

Allene and Fred’s first daughter, Dorothy, was born on June 3, 1905 in New York. Paula was born while her father was touring the Midwest (he was in Duluth, Minnesota that very day). A telegram was send to him, congratulating him for the perfect baby girl who was born in 2 pm, weighting seven and a half pounds. The doctor was very happy with the progress of the baby, and called her one of the healthiest he had ever seen. Paula was born in the West Street home  of Rex Beach, since Edith helped Allene during her pregnancy. Fred was immensely proud of his new daughter. As the tour continued, everybody wanted a piece of information about Paula, and she was often mentioned in the newspaper columns, making her a mini celebrity almost from the moment she was born.

Paula’s younger sister, Carol Montgomery Stone, was born on February 1, 1915, in New York. In 1920, the family lived in Dobs Ferry, Westchester, New York, with Allena’s parents and two servants from Ireland, Anna Lynch and Catherine Freany.

Paula’s career started early. From Wikipedia:

Stone made her debut in May 1925 at the Illinois Theater in Chicago, Illinois, in Stepping Stones. She was 13 years old. Her sister Dorothy made her stage debut at 16. Dorothy performed with Fred Stone at the Globe Theater inManhattan, in Criss-Cross in December 1926. Stone was then 14 and training to be a stage actress within two years. Her first ambition was to be a singer like her mother. Another sister, Carol, was 12. She also aspired to go into theater work.

Stone appeared with Fred and Dorothy in Ripples, a show which debuted in New Haven, Connecticut, in January 1930. The first New York show of the same production came at the New Amsterdam Theater in February. Stone and her father teamed in Smiling Faces, produced by the Shubert Theater owners in 1931. Mack Gordon and Harry Revel wrote the music and lyrics. The musical had its first night in Springfield, Massachusetts.

She did find time to graduate from high school in the meantime, but opted to become a professional actress right away instead of attending college.

Paula and her parents settled in Hollywood in 1935, where all three sisters and their father tried for an acting career.

CAREER:

Paula had a very powerful spring board into Hollywood, appearing as the female lead in the very first Hop-a-long Cassidy movie. While the franchise only got major popularity later, after several movies, making William Boyd a western legend in the league of John Wayne, Paula will be remembered chiefly for this achievement among old movie buffs. Needless to say her role is a decorative one, asking nothing more than to look pretty.

PaulaStone5Hitting the western stride, she was cast in Treachery Rides the Range, a musical-western with Dick Foran. Moslty, nobody gets anything positive out of Dick Foran movies except for Dick Foran. In a nutshell: When Paula was in westerns of dubious quality, she was given leads. When she was in B class movies, she was a third tier support. Two Against the World, a Humphrey Bogart low budgeteer, proves this. While a step up from her usual western fare, she’s almost invisible in a small role. The movie itself is decent and the cast is very good, but it got her no new fans. The Case of the Velvet Claws, a Perry Mason movie with our favorite precode cad, Warren William, continued the trend of putting Paula in heavy support.

Trailin’ West, another western, had her as a female lead. If you squeeze your eyes and pretend it’s not set in the 19th century, it could have been a 1930s crime movie – we have all the ingredients – a secret agent (believe it or not, even back then!), a corrupt bad guy and an actor giving some minot comic relief. Too bad it’s a ridiculous movie all around, with secret agents behaving like headless chickens.

Paula was given a slightly bigger than usual part in the poverty row production, Red Lights Ahead. While not a complete waste of reel, it’s far from a good piece of work. Even it’s dirt poor production values could have been overlooked if the story and characters made sense – which they don’t. Paula plays one of the lazy, good-for-nothin’ grandchildren ff the main character who desperately tries to get rich. Sound familiar? Oh yeah…

Fred-Paula-Stone-35Paula’s next tow movies were programmers where the acting parts are less important than the main plot point: Swing It Professor is a musical over saturated with swing music, with a new song appearing every five minutes and a mildly boring story, (but showcasing Paula’s fabulous tapping abilities!) and Atlantic Flight is all about then famous pilot Dick Merrill and his flying skills. The Girl Said No is a weird movie but not  a bad one. it even semi successfully mixes a few genres and features a plot you don’t see everyday in movies. Paula is prominently featured in it, so it’s a plus. The story concerns a bookie who tries to reap revenge on a chorus girl by any means necessary, and all this mixed with a generous dose of Gilbert and Sullivan’s The Mikado.

Skyline Revue was a short comedy movie, made form a vaudeville skit, and who better to act in it than the daughter of one fo the best vaudeville comedians, Fred Stone. Convicts at Large is a movie that illustrated exactly what’s wrong with most low budget quickies – there DULL. They often have decent stories and even more often good actors, but were made like a pedestrian project, something done by the dozens daily. While I do understand that after years and years of making quickies one develop an “automatism mechanism”, the end results lose much of it’s quality and charm. This one made Paula’s career no favors.  

PaulaStone2Idiot’s Delight was actually a A grade, prominent production, Paula’s first. When the cast is headed by Clark Gable, Norma Shearer and Edward Arnold, no more information is needed! Yet, while the movie is a standout in Paula’s career, I still put it in the “could have been great” category. The allegorical story does have that special magical touch and the cast is superb, but it never manages to quite catch the true grit of Sherwood’s play, the criticism of the man and the female, and the true meaning of the impending war). It ended a movie with an almost carefree flair. This often happens when plays are translated to screen, as movies are a medium that seeks more lightweight than the theater. Coincidentally, the movie was made in 1939, considered the best year in Hollywood ever, and got drowned in the mass of superior works.

Laugh It Off is a low calorie but endlessly charming musical, and a fitting end for Paula’s movie career. Her contract expired and she ventured into other areas, namely television, theater and radio, and was very successful in many of her endeavors. According to Wikipedia,

Stone toured in You Can’t Take It With YouIdiots Delight, and other plays. In November 1940 she was cast with Marcy Wescott for the Dennis King musical show. It debuted at the Forrest Theater in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

Stone took singing lessons. She was hired by WNEW in West Palm Beach, Florida, to broadcast the news and gossip of Broadway to servicemen. She wrote the scripts for this program and later secured her own show on the Mutual Radio Network. In 1950 she hosted Hollywood USA. The show related entertainment news and she interviewed celebrities. In 1952 her broadcast was known as The Paula Stone Program. She was affiliated with the Mutual Broadcasting System in 1954.

Kudos to Paula and the sheer expansiveness of her professional life! Her last credited performance was a TV appearance in Play for Today in 1971.

PRIVATE LIFE:

Paula’s best friend in Hollywood was actress Patricia Ellis. They were about the same age and both were talented actresses that never got to top tier. In August 1937, Paula announced she was to be married to George Walker Mason, a Hollywood nightclub operator.  Unfortunately, they broke off their engagement in October 1937, citing their busy schedules – she was working hard to become a star and he running his cafe.

PaulaStone4Paula met orchestra leader Duke Daly in mid to late 1938. Duke lived the drifter’s life, going from hotel to hotel with his orchestra and constantly touring, mostly on the east coast, and officially living in Miami, Florida. Yet, the pretty Paula enchanted him so much he suddenly decided to buy a house in Beverly Hills and make it his permanent home. They were an active Hollywood couple, rubbing elbowed with the likes of Constance Moore and her husband Johnny Maschio and agent Henry Wilson and his escort, Joy Hodges.

After a couple of months of courtship, Paula married  Duke on July 16, 1939 in Los Angeles, California ia. To sum it up:

Announcing that they would wed Sunday afternoon, Paula Stone, actress daughter of Fred Stone, and Duke Daly, orchestra leader, applied for a marriage licence. They disclosed they will have to combine their honeymoon with a business trip. Te wedding will take place next Sunday afternoon in the chapel of the Wiltshire Methodist church and will be performer by Reverend Willie Martin. The honeymoon destination depend on Daly’s gig – either Washington or Oregon.
After the marriage ceremony there will be a reception at the bride’s home in Beverly Hills. Bridesmaids will be the bride’s friends, her sister Carol, Patricia Ellis, Ann Shirley and Natalie Draper. John Payne will be the best man.

Duke was born as Linwood Alton Dingley in 1910 in Portland, Maine, son of George Dingley and Louella “Lulu” Dingley. He was married once before, to Dorothy J. Edwards, in 1932. He lived with his first wife in Portland, Marine, before moving to California for his career. He and Dorothy divorced sometime in 1936/1937. Daly had a minor Hollywood career, appearing in the movie Swing Hotel as a band leader.

PaulaStone1They moved next door to John Payne’s house in Los Angeles, and Paula noted she was not ready to give up her career. Unfortunately, there was no honeymoon as Duke left his bride just days after the ceremony to go on tour – they would only be reunited during the Christmas holidays and take their honeymoon then. Th marriage continued in this vein for another year, with Duke constantly touring and Paula working in Los Angeles. Their opposing schedules left no room for a quality marital life. Since Duke was never home, at one point in 1940 Paula even left their marital home to live with her parents in their Beverly Hills home, along with her two sisters and brother-in-law. In December 1940, not surprisingly, they separated. Friends and family intervened, and they reunited in January 1941.  From then on, the marriage went on smoothly.

WW2 was raging by now, and young men either joined the army voluntarily or were drafted one by one. Paula’s husband, Duke,  joined the Canadian RAF in late February 1942.

Paula was active in Hollywood, doing radio shows and broadcasting Broadway and Hollywood chatter, partially to have something to do while her husband was away at war. She also occasionally went out casually with an old friend currently on a furlough, namely Jackie Cooper. A mean columnist criticized her for taking Jackie out when her husband was throwing bombs over Berlin. Instead of trying to understand that she in all probability tired to keep her mind of her husband’s status and in the process help a friend in need and give him some good time.

And there were reasons to be worried over Duke’s fate. He went missing in action in September 1942, and caused much heartache for his family, but was saved and continued to serve in Europe. Sadly,he was lucky once, and never again. He died in Europe, from unknown causes, on May 13, 1943, at the age of 33.

PaulaStone3Paula was clearly in mourning and deeply distressed for a time, but as time went by, managed to resume her life. In late 1944, she met Michael Sloane, a publicity agent, and the two hit it off right away. They married in 1946. By this time, Paula was finished with movies and worked in other mediums extensively. Michael was a wonderfully supportive husband who loved to see his wife flourish and gave her much support.

Their daughter Paula Stone Sloane was born on May 15, 1948. The Sloane family maintained a happy and stable home life for the decades to come. There were no news of marital tiffs, and Paula was as devoted a mother as she was a successful businesswoman.

Paula Beach Sloane died on December 23, 1997 in Sherman Oaks, California.

 

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Andrea Leeds

Andrea1

One of the few obscure actresses that got nominated for an Oscar, Andrea was very talented, pretty and did justice to all of the roles she played. Unfortunately, her career went into freefall not long after, and she retired at at the young age of 26, perhaps the wisest move she could have done.

EARLY LIFE:

Antoinette Lees was born on August 14, 1912/13/14 to Charles  E. and Lina Lees in Butte, Montana. Her father was a British born mining engineer who frequently moved around – this was the reason she was born in Montana, since nobody from her family had any connection to that state (her mother was from Iowa). Andrea was an endearing, good natured child, and was called “Little Jupe” by the ranchers working outside Butte. The family moved to Arizona in 1918, and after that to Long Island some time in the 1920s. She started to attend high school there.

It was during her high school years that she discovered an emerging talent in music, and took off to Chicago to study at the conservatory there and attend high school in parallel. Her parents were very supportive, and Andrea was determined and hard working, but at tome point she realized she will never become a top notch musician, and, mature beyond her years, gave up piano playing to find something else she would excel in. The answer to the question “What?” eluded her at the moment, but would make itself clear in the near future.

Not long after she gave up music as a professional career, her father was the sent to work in Durango, Mexico, and Andrea tagged along. The country was ravaged by the recent revolution and extremely dangerous to live in for foreigners. When they threatened her parents she would be kidnapped, Charles and Lina drew the line and sent Andrea alone to the US, to continue her education in Los Angeles. This proved to be a great choice, and Andrea would finally find out what talents she wanted to develop in that very city.

She enrolled into University of California at Los Angeles and study philosophy and literature, with plans to to become a writer someday. Her first writing output was for the student newspapers, when she described her memories from Mexico in vivid detail. It was obvious she could have become a good writer, but it took only one to make her change lanes – at her senior year, she was given a 16mm camera and told to make a UCLA promotional movie. Enter the well known acting bug, and there was no looking back.

The 20 year old beauty signed with 20th Century Fox in August 1934, and her career started.

CAREER:

It took Andrea some time and a change of studios to really make it in Hollywood – thus, almost half of her filmography consists of uncredited performances, but once she took off, she REALLY took off, and even got an Academy Award nomination!

Her first taste of movies was a an extra without a contract in the MGM’s Meet the Baron, a nutty comedy about the legendary baron . Her next feature was under contract with 20th Century Fox, Elinor Norton, a movie impossible to see today. The same fate is shared by her next two features, Bachelor of Arts, and the Hollywood Spanish language movie, Asegure a su mujer.

Andrea2After being in totally obscure movies that did not make a splash even when they came out, the not-too-shabby drama Dante’s Inferno (very aptly named, if one watched the movie closely many references this seminal work of the Italian renaissance can be found), with a on his way to stardom Spencer Tracy and Claire Trevor, was a welcome step up. Anna Karenina was her next movie, giving Andrea the chance to enter the “I’ve been in the same movie as Greta Garbo” club. Nothing needs to be said about the movie except that is probably remains the best Hollywood adaptation of the Tolstoy’s classic.

By this time Andrea lost her 20th Century Fox contract, and freelancer working several times for Hal Roach. In the meantime, to earn some money, she worked sporadically in radio and gave appearances in nightclubs. Roach put her in one of his best Charley Chase comedies, Life Hesitates at 40 and The Count Takes the Count, and Laurel/Hardy movie, The Bohemian Girl. When you look at it, Andrea appeared in movies with some of the best known comedic stars of the day!

In between doing work for Roach, she had uncredited roles in several Universal Pictures movies – Magnificent Obsession, the grandfather of all weepies, and contrary to the popular belief about this genre, a well made, solid movie with a great performance by Irene Dunne, and low budget westerns Sutter’s Gold and Song of the Trail

Her next feature was an effortlessly charming, gentle romantic drama, The Moon’s Our Home, and after that came an another lost movie, Forgotten Faces  

Altough nobody knew it at that time, Andrea had just four years left to become a star, and become a star she did. She never reached the top echelons of stardom and rubbed shoulders with Errol Flynn or Marilyn Monroe, but she managed to juggle, very successfully, a solid career with her own personal ambitions outside movies, something only a few women who attained stardom did (most of them gave their everything, including their family and love life, to become big kahunas in Hollywood. This happened to Joan Crawford, Bette Davis and Claudette Colbert. The very headstrong Kate Hepburn managed to maintain her own personality through it all, but it was not an easy road for her either).

Andrea signed a contract with Samuel Goldwyn, who changed her name. So, the newly christened Andrea Leeds, still fresh from the mint, was cast in the prestigious Come and Get It. Edward ArnoldJoel McCrea and Frances Farmer were he co-stars. Andrea plays Arnold’s daughter, and while it’s Frances Farmer who stays in everybody’s mind after watching, she still made a favorable impression that pushed her into bigger and better things. Her next movie, It Could Happen to You! is today a forgotten one, with no information about it to be found easily. However, her next one got her the cinematic immortality everyone seeks in Hollywood. But the story how this happened is very interesting…

Andrea3As we noted, Andrea scored a contract with Samuel Goldwyn. With a almost frightening stubborness, she refused to be put in several movies Goldwyn offered. A columnist noted how ill advised she was to act this way – she, a nobody trying to boss Goldwyn around. While he was right to some degree and such behaviour was a kiss of death for many starlets, Andrea had immense luck. To spite her back, Goldwyn loaned her to RKO for a seemingly minor production – Stage Door.

Stage Door is a strange movie, at the same time both funny and tragic, but made with such a decilate touch and perfectly balanced btween the two extremes that it’s a true joy to watch. The cast is very good, from Kate Hepburn (who plays the same character as in most of her movies) to Ginger Rogers. Andrea is an almost counterpoint to all of the other girls , a much graver, more serious personality, the actress who almost reached the stars, but failed, and now cannot live without the light that shone on her if only for the briefest of moments, suffering prodigiously for her art but sorely misunderstood and underrated by others. Andrea was very good in this tricky role. Director Gregory La Cava enjoyed working with her and later raved about it to the press.

The Goldwyn Follies separated Andrea from drama and put her for once in a musical, but nothing especially good came out of it, as she was not true musical material. Letter of Introduction, on the other hand, is a charming, light comedy. it proved how adept Andrea was at these kinds of roles, and how this latent talent was never again used to any capacity. Andrea and Adolphe Menjou have an interesting, sparkling chemistry as a father/daughter duo, too bad they never appeared in such a combo again.

Youth Takes a Fling is another forgotten movie, pairing Andrea with the drop dead handsome Joel McCrea. They Shall Have Music is a touching, warm musical. Andrea is again paired with Joel McCrea, and they sure make a handsome couple. All these films are decent, but Andrea never truly had  a chance to shine? Why? her next movie illustrates this problem perfectly.

The Real Glory is a man’s flick, and Gary Cooper owns it expertly every minute her’s on screen. This leaves little place for Andrea to maneuver beyond the arm candy territory.  Too bad, as I don’t see her as the usual hero’s girl type of an actress. Those actresses were superb at playing background beauties, and not everybody could do such a role (imagine Joan Crawford in those roles – as grumpy cat would say – No. Just No. Same goes for Bette Davis. But, for instance Frances Dee and Gail Russell, both fine actresses, were much better at it). Andrea is not as forceful as Bette Davis or as angry as Joan Crawford or as stubborn as Kate Hepburn, but she is too far removed from the paradigm of a woman there just to support her man. There is always a hidden mischievousness in her, a sense of independence. She comes of as a gentle, kind, but very active woman who is never the one to sit back and wait for anything to happen. She is the one who makes things happen for herself. She is much like Florence Rice in this regard, velvet hiding steel. These traits severely narrow the movie range an actress can excel in – as most movies are still moves with male leads and most female leads are still supports for the male leads. A few actresses had the chance to have movies tailor made for their strong woman persona – and Andrea, despite her Oscar nomination and popularity, never got to that stage.

Andrea4Sadly, Andrea’s career went down a path not at all suited for her talents, and it disintegrated quickly. While she gives a genuinely moving performance in her next movie, Swanee River, again she is a second fiddle for the hero, played by Don Ameche. The movie is a rare melancholy musical, superbly made in terms of cinematography, defintly worth seeing, but Andre does not reveal her full potential.

Earthbound, Andrea’s last movie, was better suited for her talents than the previous three were. She plays a proactive woman out to find her husband’s murdered (and the husband helps her from the other side). Too bad the movie itself is not good enough to jump out of the mediocrity pool of 1940s Hollywood movies. It was the golden age of Hollywood after all, and the goals were set very high…

Andrea left Hollywood and movies to devote herself to family. True to form, she was never idle, but ran a variety of different businesses in the remaining years of her life.

PRIVATE LIFE:

Andrea hit the Hollywood star machine in 1936, and right off the bat started dating a great catch, Arnold Kunody. The wealthy insurance man had a long history with Hollywood actresses, but Andrea was one of the few that really managed to catch his interest. In December 1936 the press called for a Christmas elopement to Yuma, Arizona, and it seems Arnold was up for it, but Andrea, contrary to her gentle exterior, was a young woman who wanted to fully taste life before getting married. Very forward thinking for the time and age she lived in, she refused to be tied down unless in was  on her own conditions, and marrying Arnold at at the age of 23 did not appeal to her. When Kunody became too pushy, she took up with handsome John Howard, and dated him casually for a few months in late 1936/early 1937.

In late 1936, she was ordered by her boss, Samuel Goldwyn, to put ten pound son her 114 frame for her ext role. Another she restriction she had: she had to retire every night at 10 pm, so her beaus had to do their courting early.  Talk about a fast metabolism and a lust for life! Andrea generally was a thin woman and had problems maintaining her weight above a certain level.

Andrea5Kunody remained a persistent suitor for our girl, but when he was convalescing in his Palm Spring abode from an unknown illness, Pat DiCicco, the well known playboy, jumped right in hoping to woo Andrea. She did not budge., but the damage had been done – she and Kunody broke up in late February. She then turned to John Howard, and was the one doing the pursuit, but this time Howard did not budge – she gave up on him in April. Time for new romances obviously!

Andrea was a good friend of french actress Simone Simon, and she managed to snag Simone’s would-be suitor, young actor Jon Hall. The romance reach a forrest fire stage in Late July, but fizzled out by September. Hall went on to date many pretty actresses, and marry two of them – Frances Langford and Raquel Torres.

Arnold Kuody, seemingly unable to get over her, again tried to win her over in early September, but failed. Andrea’s next was Jack Dunn, a renown ice skater who enjoyed a brief Hollywood sojourn. Small, lithe and with an adorable baby face,  Jack was the frequent partner of ice skating legend Sonja Henie. He and Andrea became the young it couple of Tinsel Town for a short time in Setpember/October 1937. By December Andrea was dating Ken Murray (and had casual dates with Edgar Bergen, Charlie McCarthy pupeteer master and future father of Candice Bergen), so it’s a fair guess the affair had gone bust by that time.

Andrea entered 1938 as a girlfriend of Ken Murray, comedican/impressionario extraordinaire. Then, in February, Jack Dunn entered the love arena again, and Andrea successfuly juggled the two of them to various public functions. This created some bitterness in Murray, as evident in this bit from a newspaper:

Among the set watchers on the “Letter of Introduction” set was Ken Murray. Of course, Ken was only watching one person – Andrea Leeds. But he was doing that job very very well. “Say, Ken” I brashly remarked “when are you going to get married?” An odd expression crossed his face. “Never” he replied in a bantering tone. “Comedians are always falling in love with swell girls, but they never quite make the grade – they don’t have the final punch” Yes, Murray was kidding – but he was kidding on the square.”

Seems to be that Murray wanted to marry Andrea, but she was blowing hot and cold to him. But he clearly saw the writing on the wall and knew he was not true marriage material for her. As a side note, Andrea also had an award winning cocker spaniel, her pride and joy, but unfortunately somebody poisoned the pooch and a columnist was so angry at this act of violence he declared the person should be hanged.

Andrea more or less dated Ken Murray exclusively for several more months (but still having casual dates on the side, like with a lawyer surnamed Brenann and others). Sadly, by July they were all but over, she taking up with Reeves Espy. Then, Jack Dunn died on July 16, 1938. Andrea was devastated by his death, and this probably contributed to the final demise of her relationship with Murray. The press noted:

 She took Jack Dunn’s death much harder than anyone realized. Their romance was definitely on the rocks months before Jack died, but Andrea, had cared for him deeply at one time.

In November 1938, Andrea had a bad spill and broke a bone in her foot. To quote the papers:

If Andrea Leeds broken foot holds up “The Last Frontier”, her boss, Samuel  Goldwyn, ironically, will have only himself to blame. Andrea was supposed to fly to Palm Springs, to spend an afternoon at the home of Jerry Cowan. Her pilot was to be E. L. Benway, who was good enough to be int he Lafayette Escadrille. Hearing of the trip, however, Goldwyn forbade Andrea to fly. So she stayed home home and went to a party at the home of a Goldwyn official. It was there she got into a game of badminton and broke her foot.

Andrea6Despite her temporary impediment, Andrea did not let anything deter her from an active social life she was enjoying. Four days after she broke the leg, she was with an admirer at the Trocadero, using the crutches. Enter Ken Murray, who used her weakened state to try and win her affections again. He started the construction of a house next door to Andrea’s, and took her frequently out to nightclubs. She was so active hobbling on crutches everywhere in Hollywood that Goldwyn was fuming and the insurance company did not believe she was really hurt.

In the meantime, Murray desperately wanted Andrea to commit herself to him fully, but she refused. Irritated beyond any measure, he flew to New York, very much dissatisfied with the current situation. Those tricks did not work on her, instead of joinign him in New York as he hopes she would, she was seen with stock broker Bernard B. Robinson.

Andrea’s crazy ways caught up with her – what was supposed to be a two week period on the crutches turned to almost two months period. Gary Cooper rushed home from Europe to start making a new movie opposite her, but she was unable to start at the designated time and place. The papers noted in Late December 1938

Andrea Leeds, watching the polo at the Riviera Country Club, wearing a mink. She is still using crutches for her foot injury. She goes to Palm Springs to rest up, and it is safe to assume she will be much better when she returns home in January.

James McKinley Bryant courted her during her Palm Springs outing. She was finally crutch-free when she sprung into action in January 1939, going to New York for business reasons. Goldwyn ordered her to become more glamorous and date important men, but she brushed him off, saying she will date important men only if they are interesting men. No messing around with this one, that’s for sure!

Andrea got involved with Bob Howard sometime in early 1939. The romance progressed nicely, and by July it was clear to anyone the two lovebirds were very close to getting married. Andrea motored with Bob every weekend around California and the pair enjoyed a candid, sedate romance.

Andrea had very progressive opinions about love and marriage for a woman of that time and place. Two quotes struck my fancy:

Paul Harrison writes: “I’ll never forget the first time I shook hands with Andrea Leeds. After some sort of a conventional greeting she geld on for several second and looked off into space with a questioning trance like expression. She said she sis that with every man, hoping that some day she’s encounter a certain sympathetic vibration which would identify the right one. She must have found it in the handclasp of socialite Bob Howard: so far, I haven’t had a chance to ask.”

“I may marry some day, but not until I have enough money put away to make me completely independent of any man”

One wonder just how serious she was about this, is was it merely publicity? Since, just few months after she said it…

Andrea wed Robert Howard, often described as “wealthy young sportsman”, at St. John Chapel, Del Monte, California on October 25, 1939.Reverend Theodore Bell, Episcopal clergyman, officiated the marriage. Howard was the son of Charles S. Howard, owner of the horse Seabiscut and a wealthy businessman. His mother was Mrs. Edmond F. Merrscher. She was 26, he 23. Matron of honor was Mrs. Reeves Espy, and best man was Robert’s brother, Lindsay. The couple honeymooned in Hawaii until late December 1939. Andrea barely escaped a centipede bite while there, but they had a splendid time and would return to the island several more times.

Andrea7Andre and Bob moved to Beverly Hills. She was still under contract, but adopted the lifestyle of the wealthy and rich very soon, attending Santa Anita racetrack almost daily with her hubby. Bob also for a “normal” job, owned and ran a business based on  selling cars in California.

Andrea developed a love for midget racing cars and tennis games. She had to stop with her new found hobbies when she found out she was pregnant. Her son Robert Howard Jr. was born on December 10, 1940. An interesting anecdote was that the baby was born 10 minutes after they came to the hospital on a flat tire!

Motherhood did little to slowdown the couple. They undertook an extensive trip to southerm Americna lasting for several months before their son turned one, and entertained many Hollywood notables in their palatial home. Andrea and Bob’s second child, daughter Leeann May, was born on March 10, 1942. Her husband joined the army not long after. There was some talk of Andrea oing back to movies, but nothing happened then. The “Andrea returns to movies” soap opera was far from over by that time, however.

The marriage started to get wobbly in 1943, and this continued until 1944. They almost separated, but by some stroke of fate, it did not happen. This was their first and final big tiff. That same year, she signed a contract with Paramount, but made no movies before the contract expired.

For the rest of the 1940s, the Howards were a prominent Beverly Hills couple, and were very active in the horse racing and breeding word. They owned several stables (50-50, like true partners), and some of their horses were very successful. They mixed with the high fliers of Hollywood. Some of her best friends were Ann Sothern and Kay Williams Gable. She was also a doting mother, and frequently gushed over her children, especially her son (she liked to note that at 11 he was already taller than her!).

In August 1951, her husband sold his auto agency in Beverly Hills, and buyed an manor that will be known in the future as “Howard Manor”. It had been a private hotel built in 1935 by Al Wertheimer. They were to retain the home for three decades, and host may Hollywood notables, like Jack Dempsey and David Janssen.

In July 1953, Andrea lost 71.450 $ worth of jewelry in the Bel Air Hotel. After taking them out of the safe, her husband put them into a portable radio for protection, but later they were stolen from the radio. Luckily, they were returned to her a day later after a department store clerk found them in a coin purse at the hotel.

In 1954, a list of women James Roosevelt allegedly splet with was made public, and Andrea was among the names mentioned. She vehemently denies the accusations, claiming she was not even a democrat. Who knows the full extent of this story, or if there is any truth to it…

tumblr_m8pkw5X38K1qg8r34o1_1280Andrea’s gallery in Palm Spring became a to-go place when it town. She had several very interesting exhibitions during the late 1950s there – for instance, exhibiting more than 25 000 pearls, ancient Japanese art, and unusual diamonds. She and Bob went to business-cum-pleasure trips often, visiting Hawaii, Europe and other places. In 1957, she added a dress shop to her business ventures.

Her life so far was a charm, but some dark clouds awaited on the horizon. In 1960 her son was bitten by a snake and barely survived the ordeal. On September 8, 1962, her husband died after an unsuccessful kidney operations.

A wealthy widow now, Andrea continued her business pursuits and was still active in the horse racing world. Sadly, another tragedy struck when her daughter, Leeann, died from cancer in 1971. She was only 29 years old. Andrea retired in the late 1970s, and sold the Howard manor to Sheila and Don Cuff, well known fitness pioneers. She continued to live in Palm Springs, just in a smaller house.

Andrea Howard was admitted to a Palm Spring hospital on April 8, 1984, in the last stages of cancer. She died on May 21, 1984.

Florence Rice

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Florence Rice is not well known today – but IMHO, she definitely joins the rank of debutantes that made solid (to great) careers for themselves in Hollywood. They were few and far between, but the illustrious party includes Katherine Hepburn, Dina Merrill, Gene Tierney and Jean Muir. A solid B movie presence, Florence had an unique acting style that combined a gentle, soft femininity and an almost masculine strength underneath it, a true iron fist in a  velvet glove.

EARLY LIFE:

Florence Davenport Rice was born on February 14, 1907, in Cleveland, Ohio, only child and daughter of prominent sports reporter, Henry Gartland Rice, and his wife, Katherine Hollis.  Her parents married in 1906 in . Some dubious information about an existence of a brother, Grantland Rice, born in 1904, can be found on the net, but no other article ever mentions the boy, thus we can assume it’s a lark.

Florence came from a well to do background. Not only was her father famous and wealthy by his own merit, he also hailed from a fine southern family. He was one of three sons of Bowling and Bula Rice, landed gentry living in Tennesse (but both hailed from Alabama). His grandfather was a Confederate general during the Civil war. Florence’s mother, Katherine, was born in Americus, Georgia, to Benjamin Pulliam Hollis and Florence Davenport, both members of socially prominent families.

Florence was a beautiful child with flaxen hair, a favorite of her parents. She was tutored in private schools in Englewood, New Yersey and in Masschusets. The family moved to New York in the late 1910s, and in 1920 they lived in Manhattan, New York with a maid, Julia Goldman.

She traveled with her parents to Europe almost yearly from the early 1920s, and started making splashes in the social columns from 1925, when she made her debut at the age of 18. The Rices were very active in the high social circuits, and attended many soirees and parties. Florence herself was an accomplished tennis player, and for a time played the game daily on the Flamingo Tennis courts.

Yet, in the end of the day, Florence wanted to act, something not deemed worthy for a woman of her stature. Luckily, she had wonderful, warm parents who supported her wishes, and she was quick to make a Broadway debt in 1930. Doubtlessly her father and his wide net of acquaintances helped her land the gig. She appeared on Broadway in a few solid musical comedies: Criss CrossThree CheersJune Moon and Ripples. She then got married, took a brief hiatus, and returned again to the stage in 1933’s She Loves Me Not. That proved to be her last Broadway credit for a long time, and she departed to Hollywood for a fresh start as a motion picture actress.

CAREER:

Florence has a very interesting, varied and unusual filmography. While completely unknown today, she was mostly cast in leads in low budget productions that tackled questions high budget farces could not – small, intimate stories with real people in real situations. Of course, she also made crime movies, adventure movies, war movies, you name it!  This were thankless roles as far as fame and fortune went, but good enough for somebody more into art and acting. Florence was by all accounts an intuitive actress, using both her stunning beauty and inbred vulnerability to her advantage.

Florence1Her first movie, Fugitive Lady, is a lost one today so there is no information to be said about it. Florence got to star in a string of decent, low budget crime/drama movies with well executed plots and good casts. The Best Man Wins  puts her in a middle of a love triangle, made to choose between Victor McLaghen and Edmund Lowe. A frequent trap of the roles of innocent love interests who charm men not because they are femme fatales out to hunt some suckers, but because they are simply enchanting women, is that the actress playing it really has to have that inner shine, a charisma that explains why she is such a magnet. Florence does this perfectly. Her tender, kind personality is tingled with touches of elegance and regality (one can see she was a debutante, just the way she moves and talks is enough too attest to her high breeding and education), and all that is enveloped into a passionate but subtle strength, indicating that, beneath it all, this is a woman who knows how to take care of herself and no one will ever have her fully. She was in possession of the feminine mode of strength, a strength that could match any man’s, but whose very nature was gentler, not so physical, more mental and emotional. In a nutshell, she proves that you could get things done just as well as a man with an approach distinctive to a woman. In this regard, she much reminds me of Eleanor Parker and Olivia De Havilland, who both ended up bigger stars than Florence ever was.

She used this unique mix and match of traits greatly in her next few movies: Under Pressure, a surprisingly relevant movie about sand fogs where she is again the object of desire of two men,  Carnival, an interesting piece about a single father trying to raise his son while on the run (sadly, Florence is not the lead here but Sally Eilers, but she gets her moments of fame). Death Flies East, by all accounts a very good movie, is also very hard to find, and gives Florence a chance to play the lead. Florence excels in the parts where she is required to carry the movie. The Awakening of Jim Burke is a intimate movie Hollywood so seldom makes today, a all too real story about a boy whose artistic tendencies clash with his father’s more gruff approach to life. This is truly where Florence shines in her role of a woman who helps the father see the other side of the medal and try and evaluate his own perceptions of power and weakness. With her deep, honey laced voice, she is a calming balm, a friend in need everyone should have.  Guard That Girl is sadly totally forgotten today. Escape from Devil’s Island is a bit more adventure than substance, but a fun movie nonetheless. 

$(KGrHqZ,!rIE-pYlnQB6BP-FN(8BKg~~60_12Pride of the Marines is, as a reviewer wrote on the imdb page,fast moving film with some surprises and plenty of heart, just the kind Florence always brightened up with her serene presence. Panic on the Air  and Blackmailer were crime potboilers with some good actors (Lew Ayres). Women Are Trouble is a crime movie with a strong female lead, played vy Florence. Sworn Enemy was her first pairing with frequent costar, Robert Young. Known today as the perfect TV dad, Young had a long and varied career in movie prior to his TV experiences, but his basic persona, that of a fair and square every man, comes across most of his roles. Never the dashing romantic interest or the high wired heavy, Young was nonetheless a solid presence in most of his movies. This brand of “charm” worked wonders with Florence’s “tender but strong” style, and they are a very underrated, highly functional, Hollywood duo. Their first movie starts out as a typical mob sotry, but homosexual undertones and a well developed villain (played by Joseph Calleia) elevate it above the typical fare. The Longest Night is a more lightweight mystery movie, pairing Florence and Robert for the second time. Under Cover of Night could perhaps be called one of those proto noir movies, a dark and intensive tale about greed and corruption with a top notch cast of unsung Hollywood greats (Edmund LoweNat PendletonHenry Daniell). Man of the People is a movie made way before it’s time, dealing with the problems of political corruption and how it reflects on the men caught in it’s web. A genre later made popular by Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, it was never a popular thematic in Hollywood and kudos to the director and screenwriter for tackling with it. Florence is very good as the female lead. Riding on Air is a very far fetched mystery movie, not particularly good, pairing Florence with one of her lesser costars, Joe E. Brown.

There is a special kind of movie I like to call “brainless fun”. If you try and look at it from a artistic or indeed any logical perspective, you might a swell give up right from the start. On the other hand, if you want something to just have pure, undiluted fun and not think too much about it, this is your movie! Married Before Breakfast thrives on the strength of it’s totally silly plot and charming actors. Double Wedding is a lesser Powell/Loy movie, with Florence playing Loy’s meek sister totally under her spell until she gets involved with Powell. It’s predictable and without the usual Loy/Powell panache, but ultimately entertaining. Navy Blue and Gold  is an early James Stewart movie, a theme that would be used countless times in the future (crime in the Marines).Florence than had the honor of appearing in two great but little known comedies, Beg, Borrow or Steal and Paradise for Three . Fast Company was a Thin Man copy with a mind of it’s own, and Vacation from Love was the first pairing of Florence with Dennis O’Keefe, another frequent costar.

$(KGrHqNHJBkE9spKJ85QBPiywBnwVg~~60_57Sweethearts was finally a A class production for Florence. Supporting Jeanette McDonald and Nelson Eddy (she is adequate with a lovely voice, he is wooden with a booming voice), it’s a sharp, witty musical comedy. While not the usual sentimental fare that strike you right int he heart, it has other merits and holds up well today. Stand Up and Fight gave her  chance to act opposite some of MGM’s big names – Robert Taylor and Wallace Beery) although not in a particularly good movie. Taylor had no chance, with his shallow acting style, to outmaneuver the scene chewer Beery, and the results is an uneven farce with a promising story but mediocre execution

Four Girls in White, while a B movie, made Florence sink her teeth into an above average role. She ages from a bratty teenager to a full bodied woman in only 70 minutes, and did it with flair and dignity. Miracles for Sale and The Kid from Texas were low calorie, funny comedies, but her own personal comedy peek was At the Circus, a hilarious Marx brothers movie. Of course Florence plays the love interest (her beau is Kenny Baker), and of course her segment is the boring one (usually, people want to see what is happening with the brothers or Margaret Dumont, and not some sugary, wishy washy love story), but it got her some coverage. The absence of Zeppo caused some critical “damage”, and it’s not their best known work, but overall it’s a great film for Florence. After this was back again to lesser quality movies. Little Accident is so deeply on the low budget stack nothing is known about it today. Broadway Melody of 1940, while a big budget movie, was not a particularly good musical, and Florence was cast as a third wheel nobody cares about (not when you have Fred Astaire and Eleanor Powell as leads). 

Yet, things looked up from there, and Florence had a string of good low budgeters: Girl in 313, brittle, sleek romp about jewel thiefs (Florence being one of them), crime movie Phantom Raiders, masterfully made by Jacques Tourneur where Florence get her very own face-heel-turn from a bad girl to a good one, another crime drama The Secret Seven, and above-average-B-movie-western, Cherokee Strip

 florence_rice_204365834.640x01940s were already under way, and Florence continued in the same stride as before, in solid B class movies. Mr. District Attorney is an interesting mix of a screwball comedy and early noir, Father Takes a Wife a touching, all-too-real romantic comedy about an aging diva (Gloria Swanson) marrying a totally juvenile, silly company president (Florence plays the wife of his serious son). Unfortunately, Doctors Don’t Tell, a soapy melodrama putting Florence in the middle of a love triangle yet again, was a slow intro into the last part of her career. While Florence was as good as always, the movies deceased in quality, and she was never to make a notable film again. The Blonde from Singapore was a over-the-top potboiler, Borrowed Hero a stilted, half baked crime movie. Interestingly, while not good movies, Florence continually won kudos for her warm, tender performances. The obvious verdict is that she was way above the material given at this junction in her career. 

By this time, WW2 was raging, and Hollywood was quick to make propaganda movies. Lacking in quality but not in spirit, most of them do not hold well today. Tramp, Tramp, Tramp is one such propaganda comedy with Jackie Gleason, but Florence was nothing more than decoration. The Boss of Big TownStand By All NetworksLet’s Get Tough! all share the same fate, as movies that time has not been kind towards

Florence ended her career in an upbeat note, with the comedy The Ghost and the GuestAnother spooky mansion movie, it doesn’t have any artistical value, but is a good choice for some light viewing. Aware that her career will never get out of the slums, Florence quite Hollywood after this in 1943. She was in her middle 30s and had never been a star, and there was little chance she would ever become one. 

Florence returned to her roots on Broadway, giving her last performance in Proof Thro’ the Night. She did some off Broadway work next, in “The voice of the Turtle” and some summer stock.

She married for the fourth time in 1946, and retired to become a housewife.

PRIVATE LIFE:

Florence was a sough after debutante, being stunningly pretty, from a good family and possessing a honey laced, pleasant voice. Florence married David W. Dade, who worked in commerce, in about 1926. The marriage ended soon enough, and the couple divorced in Mexico in 1928. Little else is known about either Dade of exactly how they met, and he is often skipped on the web sites offering biographical information about Florence today (he is not mentioned on her IMDB nor Wikipedia page).

Florence started a high society romance with the wealthy broker, Sydney Andrew Smith, in 1929. Things were quick to progress, and in April 1930 they were officially engaged. Smith was on good terms with his future in laws, and frequently attended luncheons at their New York home.  In turn, Florence went along fine with her future father-in- law, Sydney J. Smith, and Talia Carpenter, her future mother-in-law (by that time already wed to another man). Sydney and Florence married on June 12, 1930. They honeymooned in Europe, and took residence in a Park Avenue duplex.

florencerice20Sadly, things were not meant to last, and by October 1930, they were living apart. The official announcement of separation was printed in the papers on October 17, 1930.  Despite this, the social Register still mentioned them as husband and wife. For the next month or so, they were constantly oscillating between divorce and reconciliation, but the charade was cut short when Peter Vanderbilt, her cousin by marriage, introduced her to Peter Arno, the famous cartoonist.  Member of the New York jet set, Arno was a hedonist and womanizer who frequently caused scandals. The papers loved him, and so did the ladies. Arno was by no means marriage material, but was fun to have around and he and Florence enjoyed, as it seems, a steamy, satisfying affair. They even went to Reno together to get their respective divorced, her from Lois Long and she from Smith. She and Smith were officially divorced in July 1931. She and Arno then took a train to Milwaukee together. She constantly denied having any romantic inclination towards the man, and even her mother soundly told the press there is no engagement between the two, but who knows how the thing really wrapped. Anyway, it seems that Florence and Peter broke up somewhere in August 1931 after nine months together.

Her former husband made headlines by almost marrying the French siren Lili Damita, future  wife of Errol Flynn, during an European junket. Florence wasted no time and took up with Phillips Holmes, scion of a well known acting family, in late 1931. Holmes was an unusual looking man, with a delicate, almost ethereal face, baby blue eyes and dark blonde hair. Born the same year as Florence, 1907, he was a Hollywood staple by that time, often co starring with Nancy Carroll. They enjoyed a fine relationship, but it was marred by the fact that he lived in Hollywood and she was in New York. They got engaged in December 1932, and it was for the betterment of their romance that Florence went to Hollywood and started her movie career.  The time was June 1934, and they were together for almost two years.

The romance boomed like a rose in spring after this. They were often seen on the town and went fishing together (Florence even caught a huge barracuda once and made headlines). Despite being wealthy, Florence did much of her own housework. Once in July 1934, she was a victim of an odd accident. Getting dizzy from a cleaning fluid she was using, she toppled backward into bathtub and injured herself so she could not work for a few days. Her maid saved her from the water. When she landed int he hospital a month later nor an unknown malady, Phillips was there for her every step of the way. Marriage seemed like the next step in the natural course of things.

young-rice-navy-blue_optEverything started to fall apart when Phillips departed for England in September 1934 for a filming assignment. Instead of staying for a month and then getting back, Phillips opted to stay more purely for pleasure’s sake (boys love their fun and games), while Florence worked like a horse on the Paramount lot, claiming the only man in her life was her dad. She ended the year by dating her frequent costar, Edmund Lowe, who was also openly gay. Florence started 1935 a single woman, not too concerned about her dating prospects. As a true daughter of a sports journalist, she developed a love for horse and motorboat racing while in California. While there, she lived in a beach home between Venice and Del Rey.

Florence had a crush on Jimmy Stewart while making Navy Blue and Gold , and told an interviewer, after the filming was over, that Jimmy was a wonderful guy. She also noted that he was very tall, a thing she deemed important in a man. She also considered him the most handsome of the actors she worked with. Considering she worked with some real hunks, one has to wonder, did Jimmy Stewart look better off camera than on?

Late in 1936, she took up with Joe Mankiewiczfamous director, but he also dated his estranged wife at the same time. As expected, the affair did not last. Next in line was another director, Eddie Sutherland, formerly wed to Louise Brooks. In 1937, she befriended Leslie Howard, and the two planned to star in a Broadway show. It never happened, sadly. Howard died in 1942 in a wartime airplane crash. Florence dated Pat DiCicco for a time in 1938. All this time, she was constantly seen with her father, Grantland. They gave joint interviews, went to sporting events and played badminton. By all means, Florence had a wonderful relationship with Grantland, and they spend much time together, even tough he lived on the East and she on the West coast.

3d0d2174b9c6ba5c2ea3021a2ac4ca86Florence started 1939 by dating Tom Neal, but just two months after this, she married another guy! Surprised? Well, so was I. Anyway, Florence married actor Robert Wilcox on March 29, 1939 in Honolulu, Hawaii. The next day, she tried to make him a special wedding breakfast, but she burnt the toast by mistake so the whole thing failed and the two had to go to a restaurant. So much for a romantic gesture! They spend almost a month on the island, returning in late April to Hollywood.

That Christmas, Florence was photographed showing some of the members of Tennessee’s Rose Bowl grid squad how to score at pool (so, she was good at that too! What a girl!). Sadly, the new year did not start nicely for the newlyweds. Rumors of divorce followed them everywhere, but when Florence had to remove her wedding ring for a movie assignment, she refused to do so, getting collective “awww, shucks” reactions from the papers. No matter how endearing it was, it didn’t last, and on June 28, 1940, little more than a year after the wedding, she filed for a divorce.  An uncontested divorce was granted on August 3, 1940. 

Noted concert pianist Dalies Frantz squired her later that year, and in 1941 she took up with the handsome actor, Edward Norris. Norris sure know how to pick them – some of his wives were Lona AndreAnn Sheridan and Sheila Ryan. Norris was in the process of obtaining his piloting licence, and after he officially became a pilot he took Florence for air spins. In September 1941, she caught a small cold but the papers blew it out of proportion and she was reported being on the verge of death. She was nursed to health by John Howard, her handsome co star.

Florence quit Hollywood in 1943, and in 1945 she was on Broadway yet again, barely mentioned in the papers. What we do know is that she married Fred Thomas Butler in 1946. Butler was born in 1915, making him 8 years her junior. The two moved to Venice Beach, California.

79221Florence’s beloved father died in 1954 at the age of 74. In 1958, she and Fred moved to Honolulu, Hawaii. As Mrs. Butler, she was active in the civic and social life of the island, well loved by her neighbors and friends, and she and Fred were proclaimed one of the most charming couples of the island. She never mentioned her past as a Hollywood star and enjoyed living in anonymity. While she was in Hawaii, her mother died in 1966 in the US.

Florence Davenport Butler died from lung cancer on February 23, 1974 at the Straub Clinic in Honolulu, Hawaii. She was survived by he husband, Fred Butler. She was cremated and her ashes were scattered over Waikiki Beach.

Fred Thomas Butler died in 1994.

Jayne Hazard

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Blonde, buxom and sexy, Jayne Hazard could have been a perfect bombshell in the 1950s, but she came to Hollywood at the wrong hour, just before WW2. It was a time when the movie capital did not need such sexpots, but wanted nice and fresh girls next door. Predictably, Jayne’s career never lived up to any promises and ended all too soon.

EARLY LIFE:

Aristine Jane Hazard was born on January 8, 1922, in Tampa, Florida, only child of Julian Leslie Hazard and Aristine Jane Luther. Her Illinois born father was a prominent lawyer who was to become a judge, and her New York born mother was a housewife. Julian’s family, a widowed mother and several brothers and sisters, came to Florida in the early 1900s, where he did his schooling. He married Aristine in 1920 in upstate New York.

The family lived in Tampa until mid 1930s with Julian’s maternal grandmother, Cristine Doolittle, moving to California afterwards. In 1940, they were living in 424a No Maple Dr, Beverly Hills,, Los Angeles, California. Jayne attended Beverly Hills High School, graduated in 1939 and started her career not long after.

CAREER:

Looking on the bright side, Jayne has several impressive movies in her filmography. Overall, she was a glorified extra in the best of times and a unnoticeable background staple in the worst.

Jayne started her career in a bunch of low budget quickies –Westward HoA Tragedy at Midnight , Cadet GirlThe Monster and the Girl. This was a typical way all starlets started in the 1940s, so there was still hope for her if she could only get a breakthrough role. Her only up a notch movie from this period is Bedtime Story , featuring industry heavyweights Loretta Young and Frederic March, but it’s far from their best efforts and is a largely forgotten movie today.

Jayne got her first real role in Flying with Music , a Marjorie Woodworth vehicle. Marjorie, a Jean Harlow wannabe, was for a time the “IT girl”, and her the dubious pleasure of being the starlet whose studios tried everything to push her into the star tier. Like most of these campaigns, it failed, and all of her movies are on the back burner today, this one included. To be blunt, Marjorie was a wooden actress cast in sub par movies, and there is nor real reason the movies would make a splash then or now.

Jayne_HazardHer career firmly stayed in the B class for the next couple of features: silly western Prairie Chickenscompletely forgotten She Has What It Takes, a dime a dozen cheap musical Let’s Have Fun, overly dramatic and insipid The Powers Girl , Underground Agent, and the Abbott and Costello extravaganza Pardon My Sarong in the end did nothing to add to her acting credibility. 

Let’s Face It at least gave her  a chance to work int he same movie as the perennial box office favorite, Bob Hope, and the petite dynamo, Betty Hutton. Again, the movie is nothing to write home about. Originally it was a sharp and biting play (risky for it’s time) watered down to become a lightweight musical. However, Jayne’s movies improved at least a bit after this. Crazy Knights, a solid Three Stooges spin off, even gave her a credited role, and she was off to the higher plains.

Strange Illusion started a very good upwards spiral for Jayne. A interesting psychological movie with a good performance by both Jimmy Lyndon and the eternal cad, Warren William, it was made before it’s time and not a hit when it was made, but today makes a compelling, well made classic. Nob Hill gave George Raft a chance to shine in a movie worthy of his talents once again – while not a true gem of the 7th art, it still makes the grade. You Came Along is a masterfully made drama with romantic elements, featuring Lizbeth Scott in a career defining role.  Hold That Blonde  is a hysterically good comedy with Eddie Bracken and Veronica Lake, a great comedic/romantic pairing in league with Carole Lombard/Frederic March or Irene Dunne/Cary GrantThe Lost Weekend is perhaps the best known, and generally the best, movie of Jayne’s career. A brutal, grim story of a writer whose life descents into alcoholism hits hard if nothing than for the fact that it shows us how could happen to anybody – Ray Milland perfectly plays the everyday guy who gets pushed into madness.

Just when one thought, here she goes – Jayne is gonna make it! – the house of cards toppled, bit by bit. Her movies suffered a sharp decline in quality after her greatest moment, and she never achieved the same degree of success again.

While none of the movies she made int he next years (Daredevils of the Clouds The Trouble with Women ‘Fun on a Week-End’ Affairs of Geraldine Gay Blades Black Market Babies) were bad, in fact some of them are quite charming in their own endearing, old school way, being a extra in them constituted no chance to achieve anything more.  
Jayne Hazard_1319818739Jayne took a hiatus from Hollywood for a few years after that, having married in the meantime. In a pattern closely followed by many other actresses, she returned to movie once again after her divorce in 1951. Unfortunately, the same things happened to her as it did to most of the others – nothing truly came out of it. She made only three movies, and while all of them were good, worthwhile ones, she was never credited and any impulse she had to become a working actress quickly fizzled.
I Can Get It for You Wholesale gave Susan Hayward a chance to act the role she excelled in – hard as nails, earthy and stubborn woman who gets what she wants the man’s way. While it not her best work by far, it’s a juicy movie showing us the garmet industry before it got shipped overseas, and how deep people are willing to sink to get what they thing they want. Criminal Lawyer was a B movie, the “drunk lawyer does good” is a powerful cliche that never gets old. Pat O’Brien gives a surprisingly sedate performance, at least compared to his usually jovial Irishmen.
The Racket was a typical noir elevated by the impeccable performances by it’s stars, Robert Ryan and Robert Mitchum. Ryan is so hypnotic in his role as a crass hoodlum who lives by the “violence is the answer” code that all others fall into second sight, but Mitchum and Lizbeth Scott hold their own against the well known scene chewer.
Jayne only made one more TV appearance in Racket Squad before retiring from acting for good.

PRIVATE LIFE:

Jayne got massive exposure int he paper in 1940, the year she started her career, by becoming a Baby Star of 1940. The natural successors of the WAMPAS baby Stars, this publicity stunt named 13 girl as stars of tomorrow. Only a few of them made anything substantial with their careers, but Jayne was sadly not one of them. The girls were: Ella Bryan, Lucia Carroll, Peggy Diggins, Lorraine Elliott, Jayne Hazard, Joan Leslie, Kay Leslie, Marilyn [Lynn] Merrick, Gay Parkes, Lois Ranson, Sheila Ryan, Patricia Van Cleve, Tanya Widrin. The lucky two that had a career were Joan Leslie (today a Hollywood legend) and Sheila Ryan (a western star).

Jayne’s father became a respected judge in California and he was often featured in the papers with his wife and daughter. At any rate, Jayne had some real connections in Hollywood, and was a protegee of producer Jeffery Bernerd, who wanted to make her a star. Been there, heard that – we all know how that story ended. Allegedly Jayne was slated to act in a movie that would have pushed her into stardom, but an emergency appendicitis rendered her unable to carry it out, and the moment passed.

600full-jayne-hazard (1)Jayne married Lowell Jasper Thompson on May 4, 1947, in Los Angeles. Lowell, born in 1916 in Washington, was thus 8 years older than her and his profession was given as “theater owner.” The marriage was flawed from the very beginning, and did not last long (what a shock!).

I cite Hans Wollstein, one of my very favorite bloggers, from the page about Jayne from his superb blog:

Off screen, in June of 1949, she divorced 35-year-old Lowell J. Thompson, described as a “wealthy theater owner.” In the proceedings Jayne told the court that her husband “showed no concern, comfort or sympathy for his father-in-law.” The latter, Julian Hazard, a former judge, was injured when struck on the head by an airplane propeller while on a “honeymoon fishing trip” with his daughter and son-in-law. Mr. Thompson’s sole reaction, according to his wife, was to tell her “that he was sorry he married me and would leave me if it weren’t that my father was so ill.” Grounds for divorce, to be sure!

Jayne was connected to Ricky De Vega, a wealthy Spanish charmer, for a time in 1949. Jayne married for the second time to well known attorney Guy E. Ward, on October 27, 1951, in Phoneix, Arizona. Ward was born in 1912, making him 10 years Jayne’s senior. Their daughter Judith Jayne Ward was born on September 27,  1952. Sadly the girl died just six weeks later on November 17, 1952. Their second daughter, Sally Jane Ward, was born on November 5, 1953. Their third and last child, Leslie J. Ward, was born on October 24, 1957. By this time, Jayne had long given up on her Hollywood career and was a devoted wife and mother.

Jayne and Guy divorced in 1959, and the same year he married Linda F. Hicks. That marriage lasted until 1979. Ward died in 1994 in Los Angeles.

In 1975, there were rumors that Howard Kessler would marry Jayne, but in the end, she did not remarry.

Jayne Hazard Ward died on December 12, 2006, in Palm Springs, California.