Terry Walker

TerryWalker

Likeable, pretty blonde ingenue who started a singer and ended up as a low budget western lead.  Well no, that’s not quite all you can say about Terry Walker. Why? Because, she was “Twice born” in Hollywood – first under the name of Alice Dahl, and then under the name we all know her. Proof that good publicity can change your identity (literary!), Terry Walker and her dual career are great studies of the way Hollywood works and how far it’s ready to go to make someone a success. Hers is a benevolent example, but it’s clear how much illusions, lies and deception play a large part in the Hollywood star machines.

EARLY LIFE:

Theresa “Terry” Norberg was born on January 7, 1913, in Petersburg, Alaska to Adolf and Alice G. Norberg. Her younger brother, born in 1918, was called Zach. Her father was born in Michigan to Norwegian parents, and moved to Alaska in the early 1900s.

Terry was determined to become an entertainer, and was early to start, leaving the family home in the late 1920s, when she was little more than 17 years old (I have no idea if she graduated from high school). She was soon making her living as a lounger singer in Los Angeles, and entered movies under the name of Alice Dahl in 1933.

CAREER:

For all purposed, Terry started her career as Alice Dahl. Her career as Alice was pretty much unremarkable, but hardy a complete waste. She was given leading roles right off the bat, playing in low budgets westerns The WhirlwindDeadwood Pass and Coyote Trails. I wrote enough about what happends when an actress scores it big in the low budget westenr territory. Not a bad start, but usulaly something extra has to happen to push her career out of the rut. In the meantime, Alice appeared uncredited in several other movies – an early mystery talkie, The Phantom Express, western comedy Thrill Hunter, musical George White’s Scandals, the psychological drama Jealousy, and the Laurel and Hardy classic, Babes in Toyland. Alice had more prominent roles in anther railway mystery, Twisted Rails, and a boy-dog movie, When Lightning Strikes. She also made two comedic shorts, Horses’ Collars and His Old Flame, and ended her career with the great Edward G. Robinson/Jean Arthur comedy, The Whole Town’s Talking.

Then some Hollywood magic happened. A nifty publicist decided to make Terry a star – but Alice Dahl was obviously not star material, so he remedied it by simply changing her complete persona. He even went so far as to claim that Terry had been living for 10 years in Hollywood and that nobody noticed her before this. Quite fishy. Yet, it worked, and Terry Walker was born, to have a slightly better career.

Terry skipped the uncredited grooming period and embraced supporting roles from the start. her firts movie was And Sudden Death. Like most of the quickie movies clocking at below 70 minutes,  is a mediocre fare at best, and a formulaic, uninteresting fare at the worst. Luckily, it was graced by two charming leads, Randolph Scott and Frances Drake, who elevate it slightly. Yes, it had a predictable plot and no great dramatic value, but it’s not a worst case scenario.

TerryWalker323 1/2 Hours Leave is one of those idiotic WW2 musicals with a stupid plot and forgettable music. It was Terry’s first chance to play a leading role, however, and it’s notable if nothing than for that fact. James Ellison plays such a dummy it’s impossible to like him, let alone believe that such a man can be a competent soldier. Terry got some kudos as being a lovely and talented songstress – but no mentions of any acting accolades were given (as her role required none, it’s not surprising).

Mountain Music is a typical Martha Raye/Bob Burns musical. if you like hillbilly humor, by all means, go ahead! Blonde Trouble is an Eleanor Whitney showcase that failed – Eleanor was one of the few girls pushed into massive publicity but  didn’t have the pizzazz to make themselves real stars. The musical is completely forgotten today.

Eleanor continued to appear in mid tier, good but not much more movies: This Way Please, a Betty Grable/Charles Rodgers low budget musical, Federal Bullets a movie about the G men with Milburn Stone in the lead (where Terry again plays a prominent female character), Delinquent Parents the very low budget but surprisingly decent weepie dealing with the aftermath of adoption, the uninspired, muddled musical western On the Great White Trail (where she again was the leading lady), comedy short, America’s Safest Tire.

By this time, terry was pushed into westerns and firmly got stuck in them. While it is a redeeming feature for a few actress, bread and butter for most, it’s a kiss of death for anybody who wants a serious, dramatic career. While I have no idea what exactly Terry went for, she did not get that revered, high quality career. The westerns, all low budget, and all more or less the same to a person ignorant of the genre (like me) are Billy the Kid in TexasTake Me Back to Oklahoma and The Medico of Painted Springs

TerryWalker4On the other hand, the rest of Terry’s filmography is more diverse. Invisible Ghost, a horror thriller with a genuine creepy atmosphere but not much else (and let’s not forget Bela Lugosi). Dangerous Lady is, as the reviewer wrote, “Cheap Thin Man ripoff from PRC attempts to use Neil Hamilton and June Storey in the roles of sophisticated detectives, and they are good. The rest of the cast, alas, isn’t up to their acting ability and make a mess of the story. Some interesting early film-noir photography and the leads make this watchable.” Hellzapoppin’ is a very good “chaotic” comedy int he vein of the Marx brothers with the comedic duo Ole Olsen and Chic Johnson. And then, like many of her contemporaries, Terry gave up her career for marriage.

Let’s be clear, Terry was not an actress who retired because she was a talentless hack or her career was in shambles. In fact, she could have had a decent careerin the mid tier, and made a living in Hollywood for at least a few more years. While she was not a top acting talent, she was pretty enough, had a good singing voice, and enough charisma to go by (many have succeeded on less). But, she chose marriage over her career and that was that.

Terry returned to the movie set just one more time, in 1944, to act in Voodoo Man, a horror with all the typical cliches – Bela Lugosi playing a quack scientist (who wants to revive his dead wife), Keith Carradine as his dimwitted henchman, Henry Hull as the local sheriff and a tons of pretty girls who just scream (and Terry is among them). This did not lead to further movie offers, and Terry retired for good.

PRIVATE LIFE:

When in transition from Alice Dahl to Terry Walker, a whole web of stories was spun to make it seamless. Her past was forgotten, as were her previous roles and she started from a blank slate. She even had a story about how she was discovered! The story goes: In late 1935, Terry posed for Norman Rockwell, eminent photographer whose subjects often end up as movie starlets, and the painting was used in a cover for a national magazine. Nothing big happened and she continued her singing career. At some point in early 1936, she got a gig in Miami. While she was on the East Coast, a talent scout saw the Rockwell painting, liked what he saw and tried to find the girl. Rockwell  only knew her name, but had no idea what happened to her. Messengers were sent to her home town in Alaska, then to New York City, Phoenix and Syracuse. The chase continued with little success. When he finally located her in Miami, she was asked to return to Los Angeles to take a screen test. After passing it, she signed with Paramount. Nifty story for sure 🙂

Terry got involved with the violinist Jan Rubini in about 1935, while she was still Alice Dahl. When she was resurrected as Terry Walker, she made two movies in Hollywood, and then took a six month hiatus to go to New York and try for a six months trial marriage period. The press ha no idea who the guy was, and there was much speculation over the nature of this unusual decision. And with good cause, it seems.

Basically, there were several problems with this whole set up. The biggest problem was that Rubini was married to Adel Rubini – and she was not thrilled. They made the papers in 1937 when Mrs. Rubini sued Terry for alienation of affection (or something similar, you get the point). In a plot worthy of soap operas, Terry wanted to marry Rubini, but he was reluctant. Unfortunately, it had little to do with any amorous reasons – it was more a matter of figures. After weighting his options, Rubini got his math right – it would be too expensive to divorce Adel now, since she would take pretty much most of his property. The two reconciled and made a pact that he must not be unfaithful to her for the next two years. If he keeps his end fo the bargain, he gets their (formerly) shared property back. I was thinking, reading this, okay, so he and Terry were over and he was back with his wife for good. No! Poof, several months later there are reports that Rubini is divorcing his wife to marry Teresa. They finally did marry in 1940.

Several sources lists Rubini’s birth year as 1904, but that cannot be valid – his son was born in 1919! It is more likely Rubini was born in the early 1890s, but since he was born in abroad, he conveniently made himself at least 10 years younger when he came to the US. (there is another source that claims he was born on April 5, 1897 – this is way more probable. He could have been 22 when his son was born – very much plausible for that time).

TerryWalker1Anyway, his life story: Jan Child Rubini was born in either Switzerland or Stockholm, Sweden to an Italian father and a Russian mother, he was a musical prodigy, playing the violin from early childhood. He moved tot he US at some point, and married Diane D’Aubrey in the early to mid 1910s. Diane was older than Jan – she was born on November 11, 1889 in Michigan. Their son Jan Mario Rubini was born on April 29, 1919 in New York. Jan and Diane divorced (have no idea exactly when, but prior to 1928). He moved to Australia at some point, and there met his second wife Adele Crane (she appeared with him in a musical show). He and Adele married in 1929.

Terry gave up movies to raise a family with Jan. The couple had two children, two sons: Michel Rubini, born on December 3, 1942, and David Alan Rubini, born on December 15, 1945. Terry had a miscarriage in 1953. Both children were musically inclined: David ended up a prodity at the piano, and Michel played the violin at only 4 years old.

I quote IMDB for information about terry’s older son, Michael:

Michel Rubini was born into a musical family on December 3, 1942 in Los Angeles, California. He started playing piano at age three and began his professional music career as an accompanist to his violinist father Jan Rubini. Michel started playing blues and gospel music at age thirteen and left classical music behind at age eighteen to focus instead on blues, jazz, and rock’n’roll. Rubini was a much sought after Los Angeles session musician in the 60s and 70s; among the artists he has performed on albums for are Frank Sinatra, Ray Charles, Frank Zappa, Barbra Streisand, and Sonny & Cher (Rubini also arranged singles for Sonny & Cher as well as Maureen McGovern). While working for the legendary Motown label he produced and arranged albums for such artists as Junior Walker and Thelma Houston (he also co-wrote three songs for Houston’s album “The Devil In Me”). Moreover, Rubini has toured extensively with several groups that include Seals & Croft and Loggins and Messina. Michel has not only composed the scores for such movies as “The Hunger,” “The New Kids,” “Band of the Hand,” “Manhunter,” and “Nemesis,” but also composed the scores for episodes of a handful of TV shows that include “The Hitchhiker,” “Capitol,” and “Tales from the Crypt.” He has recorded two solo albums and runs the Rubini Gallery of Fine Art. Rubini spends his spare time between his homes in Porta Vallarta, Mexico, Palm Springs, California, and Oahu, Hawaii.

Rubini was a prominent musician of his time, and performer all over the world. Terry followed him dutifully, often with the children.

The Rubinis divorced in the early 1960s. Rubini remarried (for the fourth time) to Helen in 1965. Terry never remarried, and continued living in California.

Terry Rubini died on May 8, 1977 in San Diego, California.

Rubini died on December 2, 1989.

 

 

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Janice Logan

JaniceLogan1

Janice Logan was an actress much preferred by her studio, Paramount, and excepted to achieve a top career. Despite the initial burning desire to become a great actress, she changed her priorities and decided to get married, leaving Hollywood behind. It is clear not many actresses were given a chance that she was given, and ever fewer of them chose to forgo it – but the question remains, could Janice have been a true acting tour-de-force? Could she had become the next Bette Davis or Joan Crawford? Since she gave up to soon, before acting in a substantial movie, we can never tell. What we have today shows us a pretty and charming woman, but no great actress. Maybe, if she could have developed her skills… Yet, as I said, we will never know. PS: Much of the information has been taken from Laura Wagner’s superb article about Janice (you can read the article here). Thank you Laura for introducing this fine actress to me 🙂

EARLY LIFE:

Shirley Logan was born on May 29, 1917, to Stuart Logan and Gladys Goodrich in Chicago, Illinois. Stuart Logan, born in 1887, was the son of Frank and Josephine Hancock Logan, both members of prominent Chicagoan families. He was working in the investment firm Logan and Bryan at the time. Her mother was from an equally prestigious family, her father being Horace Goodrich.

They married on November 1, 1910, and three daughters followed: Phoebe (born on December 24, 1911), Shirley (born May 29, 1917), and Laurette (born on October 17, 1918). A double tragedy struck the family in 1922 – first, Gladys gave birth to a stillborn son on February 5, and then died on July 15.

Stuart married to Lulu Logan sometime after 1925. As a member of the upper class, Shirley was nothing if not well educated – first at Rosemary Hall in Greenwich, Connecticut, and then  Fermata Preparatory School in Aiken, South Carolina. Like many ladies of her generation, she ended her educating at a woman’s liberal arts college, Sarah Lawrence College in Bronxville, New York. She was popular on the campus, and was even voted the best dressed woman.

Already bitten by the acting bug from an early age, after graduation Shirley started acting for a Connecticut stock company, when a talent scount noticed her and suggested she try movies. Shirley landed in Hollywood in early 1939, and her journey began.

CAREER:

Janice appeared in only six movies, and only four were made in Hollywood. Now, this truly is a wasted talent, since Janice was not just an uncredited face, but a leading lady who showed much promise.

JaniceLogan5Janice was at the right time at the right place, and was a member of the Paramount Golden Circle almost from the moment she signed with the studio (the other in the circle were, Louise Campbell, Joseph Allen, Judith Barrett, Patricia Morison, Susan Hayward, Robert Preston, Ellen Drew, William Henry, William Holden, Betty Field, Jayce Mattews, Evelyn Keyes and so on…). When we take the sum of all parts, most of the golden circle never broke into stardom, let alone became lasting Hollywood legends (only William Holden and Susan Hayward did this. Patricia Morrison, Robert Preston and Evelyn Keyes became well known thespians, but never legends, Ellen Drew and Betty Field did some notable B work, and the others did not even scratch the surface).

Janice made her debut in Undercover Doctor, an Edgar J. Hoover penned extravaganza. No, not really an extravaganza, but it’s an interesting experiential that ultimately fails to do its job. It’s neither suspenseful nor dramatic, and falls flat in terms of script writing and acting. Worth watching only if one is interested in Hoover and his work.

Janice appeared with Betty Field, a fellow Paramount Golden Circle, in What a Life . Everybody known this type of a movie – they are small, colorful, low key, feel good movies with no big plot or incredible acting achievements, but solidly done and with a positive message. So, if you are all for that kind of films, by all means go ahead. Janice is overshadowed by Field, who had a better (and much longer), so the comparisons are hardy fair.

JaniceLogan2Now, if Janice will ever be remembered, it’s because of Dr. Cyclops. A weird movie if there ever was one. We have the lead, a crazy scientist, Dr. Cyclops, who summons three scientists (Thomas Coley, Janice Logan, Charles Halton) to his remote South American laboratory to seek their advice on his secret project. Janice has the good luck of playing the only female role, making her feminine center of attention, but it’s Albert Dekker’s movie all the way. Dekker was unusually the second banana in movies, not being conventionally handsome, but he was a fine actor who could give a very nuanced performance when he was given the chance. His Dr. Cyclops is a powerfully tragic figure, someone you equally pity and hate. To make things even worse for Janice, it you put Dekker aside, the special effects draw much more attention than any of the supporting cast. They are very good for the time, and deservedly got an Oscar nomination.

Opened by Mistake is one hot mess. The movie itself is so obscure it doesn’t even have a summary in IMDB, but I dug up some newspaper reviews from May 1940 and looked it up on Wikipedia, and boy, what a plot! A guile hero who just wants to go on vacation, a crate “opened by mistake” hiding a body, Janice playing a woman who is trying to find a million dollars hidden in a similar crate, a banker who stole those million dollars, the cops hot on their trail, mistaken identities, one nasty publisher, so on and so on. The convoluted plot does nobody any favors, and the mix and match obviously did not work this time. No, it’s not the worst you could find, but not the best either.

Janice left Hollywood for private reasons after this movie. It’s a shame, as she was truly on the way up, and could have been another Susan Hayward. Or maybe not, but we’ll never know now.

Janice made tow more movies, but they are Mexican production and are largely forgotten today (Summer Hotel and El as negro ). That’s all.

PRIVATE LIFE:

Janice was 5 feet 5 inches tall, weighted 118 lbs, and was called “a perfect model” in 1939 by a bunch of photographers. Janice had luxurious, naturally curly hair but like many curly haired woman, wished it was straight (calling it bothersome).

Janice was hailed as a Chicago debutante who decided to make her fortunes in Hollywood. She undetook a European vacation before she came to Tinsel Town, yet, the papers managed to neglect her rather colorful history that included a youthful marriage abd more.

JaniceLogan3In June 1936, Shirley was married to Jackson Reade, a New York stock broker. Reade was born on May 24, 1900, in Pennsylvania, making him quite a bit older than Janice. He lived in New York City from 1919.

Laura Wagner writes in the article about what happened next:

“Seven months later, Shirley’s father and sister Phoebe persuaded the teenager to leave her new husband and live with Phoebe in Los Angeles. Two months later, Reade filed a $150,000 “lost-love suit” against the Logan family. He claimed they loved each other and wrote letters constantly, but they were being kept apart; he was convinced that his pregnant wife was “being kept a virtual prisoner because she wishes to see me.” His case was thrown out of court and the marriage was annulled. On March 10, 1937, Shirley gave birth to a daughter, Phoebe, who was to be raised by Shirley’s sister Loraine.”

As I said, all of this was hushed when Shirley became Janice and took a new identity. In an early interview, Janice told the press: “I thought when I finally got a motion picture contract, that I was through with schools. I had been in six or seven of them and I thought that was enough. But I didn’t know Hollywood. Today, I’m an actress, but I still go to school. In Hollywood, my education started all over again. I had to go to Paramount’s dramatic school. I took lessons in hair dress and make up. I even learned how to walk, stand and sit gracefully for the benefit of the camera. In the wardrobe department, I learned what clothes to wear – and how to wear them. It seems the studio insists all its younger players to take dramatic coaching when they are not in a picture. I’ve found there is plenty to learn.”

While filming Dr. Cyclops, Janice suffered a wardrobe malfunction – while running around clad only in a sheet, the sheet caught on a nail and she was left naked for a brief while. To stop this from occurring in the future, Janice wore sarongs from then on.

In January 1940, Janice was seriously ill from influenza, but managed to recover in time to continue her film work. In February 1941, she was called the best undressed woman in the States by a group of college students who wanted to parody the “best dressed” title. Her runner up was Marlene Dietrich (some runner up!).

JaniceLogan4Janice, however, was not happy with the title, fearing what her parents would say if they heard of it. She needn’t have feared – her father was in good humor about it, even teasing her to the press. Not long after, Janice threw a party for nine men that helped her in her quest for cinematic immortality. It was a good publicity play, but Janice seemed like a genuinely nice woman: cameraman Henry Hallenberger, who shot her first Paramount test, said, “I’ve been at Paramount studio for 23 years, and this is the first time an actress has invited me to have my picture taken with her.”

Yet, just as her star was rising, other plans took precedence. Janice met and fell in love with french journalist, Jacques Schoeller. Schoeller came to New York from Europe on the Ille de France and they met while he was in the US. He returned to France at some point in the early 1940, and soon Janice lost all trace of him.

This was sad but understandable – Jacques was in a country soon to be engulfed into chaos of WW2. Janice was so distraught over the fate of her fiancee that she suffered a series of medical maladies – when the situation did not improve, she was made by the doctors to take a three month leave from work. She did not plan to return to the movie lot (opting to get married instead), and, in a very generous gesture by the studio, was given a special contract that stated she could return whenever she was ready to resume. This showed just how good Janice was, and how much the top brass wanted her to continue her career. Sadly, it was not meant to be.

JaniceLogan6In May 1940 she went to Europe to find Jacques. What exactly transpired in Europe is unknown (why was Jacques missing? How did she find him? Where?), but the two reunited and married on November 25, 1940, in Bougival, a Paris suburb.

Jacques Charles Marie Schoeller was born on August 11, 1909, making him 6 years older than Janice, in Paris, to Rene Schoeller and Suzane Feraud. He traveled a great deal, often to Mexico. They returned the States in February 1941 on board the Monterey, and went on to live in Chicago.

She adopted her husband’s lifestyle and traveled a widely. She visited Mexico several times in the 1940s. She and Schoeller divorced at some point.

Laura Wagner wrote that Janice married Thomas Bell – I could not find any mentions of the union, I just know that it was sometime after 1955. The couple allegedly moved to Glendale, California.

While I could not find a death certificate, Shirley Bell died on October 23, 1965, in Glendale, California, in a house fire.

CORRECTION: Thanks to Becky’s kindness, I found out that Shirley actually died in 1967, under the name of Shirley Logan Schoeller, so it is posible she never married  Mr. Bell and she was definetly not the Shirley Bell who died in a house fire.

Her former husband Jackson Reade died in October 1981.