Cecilia Meagher

Cecilia Meagher

Regal, elegant model who became the queen of jukebox movies in California, Cecilia Meagher lasted much longer than some, but still did not find lasting success in Hollywood.

EARLY LIFE:

Cecelia Margret Meagher was born on May 10, 1919 in New York to John Meagher and Sarah Potter. Her father was to become a vice president of the Pennsylvania R.R. company.

Cecilia was the oldest of three daughters: her younger sister were Mildred, born in 1921, and Joan, born in 1926. Cecilia and her sisters grew up in the family home in Howard Beach where they attended high school.

A pretty brown eyed girl, Cecilia entered the world of modeling in 1936, barely 17 years old. She entered a large number of various beauty contests and often placed second (always the bridesmaid, never the bride).

In the early 1940s, Cecilia signed with Conover models. In 1942, she won a national wide contest of Coronet magazine to find a perfect girl who will represent them in the upcoming Rita Hayworth movie, Cover Girl. Thus, Cecilia left for Hollywood!

CAREER:

Cecilia made only one movie under her real name, and that movie is Cover girl. As with Jean Colleran, I repeat the passage about the film:

CeciliaMeagher2Her first credit is Cover Girl, a now classic Rita Hayworth/Gene Kelly Technicolor musical. While today remembered primarily a springboard for the two stars (Gene Kelly, loaned out from MGM; finally got the treatment he deserved at his home studio after this movie, and Rita crawled out of the B movies and supporting role sin A movies and got her due with Gilda and other great movies), it’s a fun, sweet movie nonetheless. Rita is simply enchanting, and Gene, while his character is  somewhat of a jerk, redeems himself with his superb, athletic dancing. A great and breezy way to pass an hour and a half!

Cecilia was one of 14 cover girls who appeared in it. The others were Betty Jane Hess, Eileen McClory, Dusty Anderson, Jinx Falkenburg, Helen Mueller, Anita Colby, Francine Counihan and so on.

In the interim, Cecilia change her name to Cissy Marr and made a large number of jukebox movies. IMDB only lists a few credtis under tCeciliaMeagher6his name. Let’s go with them:

Anna and the King of Siam, a predecessor of The King and I. It’s a very well made movie, with a geniune warmth and loads of charm. The performances by Irene Dunne and Rex Harrison are first class, very nuanced and deeply felt, the production values are high and the script is intelligently written. While it’s not the flippant, happy go lucky movie the musical version is, the dramatic flair gives it a seriousness and earnestness the musical does not have. Cissy played one of the King’s wives and was (sadly) uncredited.

CeciliaMeagher4The second one is Blue Skies, a Bing  Crosby/Fred Astaire film with music by Irving Berlin. If you like musicals where the music is of primer importance, this is the movie for you. While both Astaire and Crosby excell at their prospective fields (Astaire as a dancer and Crosby as a singer, naturally), they cannot outmatch Berlin’s ingenious music. Joan Claufield is a bit balnd as the love interest, but her sweet but interesting type was a female role staple in Crosby movies for  a very long time. All in all, a nicely done musical, worth watching, not the best for any of the performers involved but certantly good enough.

The Belle of New York is a slightly different musical (of the musical fantasy type), with Astaire and Vera Ellen, that never grows to it’s full potential. The reason? Several, but mostly it’s the inspid, uninteresting story (about a playboy at the beginning of the 20th century who falls in love with a mission house worker, now where did I see that one before?) . Fred, despite being in his late 50s, is as god as ever, and Vera Ellen is a graceful but energetic dancer, matched by very few female dancers of that time. The supporting players are also outstanding (Marjorie Main, Keenan Wynn, Alice Pearce), but there is always something missing.

Cissy allegedly appeared in the movie A Bell For Adano with her daughter, but it is not listed among her credits.

PRIVATE LIFE:

Cecilia’s life was pretty ordinary for someone who was a top New York model and an working actress (at least for a time). Men flock to date and sometimes wed both of these brands of girls.

CeciliaMeagher3Back home n New York, in the late 1942 and early 1943, Cecilia dated the famous puppeteer, Frank Parris. Yet, Parris was soon out and a new beau was in – civilian flying instructor, Robert Heasley. For Cecilia Bob Heasley was the one, and the two wed on December 7, 1943, in Los Angeles.

Robert Preston Heasley was born on August 2, 1915 to Walter Heasley and Jeanette Barrett in California. The family lived in Los Angeles where Bob grew up. He later opened a flying school in Arizona.

CeciliaMeagher5Her daughter Barbara Jeanne Heasley was born on October 26, 1944. When the baby was two months old, both she and Cecilia appeared in the movie “A bell for Adano.” Cecilia’s second child, a son, Robert Preston Healey Jr., was born on April 29, 1948.

Also worth noting is that Ceceilia’s sister, Mildred, became the model Betty McGuire and made headlines more than her sister in the earl 1940s. She was very popular with the boys and had a brief marriage that was well documented in the papers. She faded from view after 1946.

CeciliaMeagher7Cecilia and Robert continued to live in California. She gave up her movie work in the late 1940s to raise their family. She was completely out of the limelight and it’s very hard to find any information about what she was doing during that time. Cecilia and Bob divorced sometime in the mid 1960s, and Bob remarried in 1968 to Constance Simons.  

Her son, Robert Preston Heasley Jr., married Mary Charlene Hayes in Las Vegas, Nevada, in 1977.

Cecilia’s former husband, Robert Preston Heasley, died on April 17, 1998.

Cecilia Heasley died on July 11, 1998, in South Lake Tahoe, El Dorado County, California

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8 responses

  1. Bob Married my Aunt Connie (Constance Simons) in 1968. Visited them a few time, He was a Great person to be with, I liked a lot. Now both of them are gone.

      • My grandfather Bob was actually quite famous too – he was the producer of a star is born with Judy Garland and famous ice skater wtih Dorthy Hamel and a playboy in his own right.

  2. This is my Grandmother! She moved to South Lake Tahoe in the 70’s to help raise us with my Mom Barbara. She ran and founded successful fashion store called Sidestreet Boutique in South Lake Tahoe where you can find all her modeling pictures enlarged in the dressing rooms through-out the store. The store is still family owned and operated sidestreetboutique.com

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