Shirley Tegge


Shirley Tegge’s selling point were her impressive outdoor abilities. She was a superb fly fisher, and spend a large part of her early life in the forests of Michigan. On top of it all, she was a drop dead gorgeous woman with some theatrical training and not without any acting experience. Yet, like many similar cases with genuinely talented woman, this got her nowhere in Hollywood, and except a few spots of publicity, she did not achieve anything big.


Shirlee Ann Tegge was born on August 6, 1927 in Iron river, Michigan, to Albert and Esther Tegge. She was the oldest of four children – her siblings were: Elaine “Peaches” (born in 1931), Marilyn (born in 1933) and Richard (born on March 16, 1934).

The family lived in Iron river in 1940, where Shirley attended high school. Shirley had a very outdoorsy, active upbringing. Her father took her trout fishing ever since she was  toddler, and as a result, Shirley became an expert fisher by the time she was in high school. She also knew the woods of northern Michigan like the back of her hand after spending many, many hours there. Shirley’s pretty visage, combined with her rough and tough lifestyle, made for an interesting personality that only further developed as time went on.

Except her fishing activities, Shirley was the Iron River corps drum majorette in 1941 (she made the papers for the first time that year). It was clean an unusual future was waiting for the girl. Shirley’s father owned a hardware store specializing in sporting goods, and among other things, he sold trout baits made by Shirley, named “Tegge Tantalizers”. They were very popular all over the US and Canada.

Shirley graduated from the Iron River high, in 1945. In June of that year, she won a scolarship for speech and dramatics in Illinois. Shirley relocated to Chicago, and started working as a model to earn money on the side. In 1946, she was named “Queen” by the wounded veterans in US naval hospital in Great Lakes, Illinois. Soon, she was doing summer theater work on Cape Cod.

After modeling and sometime acting for years, Shirley was crowned Miss USA in 1949. Her strong point:

“Her recipe for latching onto a lad I is a brand new gimmick in the wiles of women. It is called the “Tegge tantalizer,” which has absolutely nothing to do with her own blonde beauty or her colossal curves. The former Powers model is a one-woman manufacturer of hand-made fishing flies”.

Due to her title and new found fame, in 1950 she finally landed in Hollywood.


Although uncredited in all of her films, Shirley actually appeared in a good number of solid movies, many of them fondly remembered today.

Shirley2Her first feature was in Where the Sidewalk Ends, a Dana Andrews/Gene Tierney pairing. I’m a fan of this pairing, so I’m not the best judge of their movies, but when I say I think this movie is tops, it seems that most critics and fans agree with me. It’s a stylish, dark and impossibly cool film noir, directed by Otto Preminger (a difficult personality but a top-of-the-shelf director), and with such a great cast you could just lick your fingers with them. Dana Andrews, so underrated as an actor, plays a jaded detective par excellence, and Gene Tierney has just the right mix of stunning beauty, glamour and toughness to make her a perfect femem fatale.  Very good performances are given by Craig Stevens, Gary Merrill and Tom Tully.

Strangers on a Train. What should I say about this movie? Hitch made tons of famous, good movies, and this one falls into the upper echelon category of his work. Take special note of Robert Walker, by far the best actor in the movie (and all the other were nothing to slouch about – Farley Granger, Ruth Roman, Leo G. Carroll). his portrayal is just… W-how. Perfect. Such a shame about his premature death .- he could have developed into a leading actor of the generation.

Take Care of My Little Girl, despite it’s idiotic name, is actually a serious drama hidden by a veneer of a breezy comedy. What seems like a fun loving movie at first, dealing with college, sororities, youth, fun – turns into a dark fable of narcissism, snobbery and greed, showing how those sins penetrate our modern, democratic society like snakes. Jeanne Crain, a mediocre actress in most of her efforts, is good enough, but it is Jean Peters (such a vivacious, interesting actress) and Jeffery Hunter (sadly to much of a pretty boy to be taken seriously, but not a bad actor) who take all the thunder. Dale Robertson is handsome and decent as the male support (although he always sounds like a cowboy IMHO).

The Guy Who Came Back – now we come to the less flashy, but still memorable movies. It concerns an aging football player living in the past until WWII allows him to relive his “glory days”. Part a character study, part a life story, it’s one of those movies that undeservedly slipped into oblivion. Even if you don’t like sports movies, it’s worth watching for the actors alone – Paul Douglas, Joan Bennett, Linda Darnell.

Two Tickets to Broadway is a musical made by Howard Hughes with a roster of former MGM talent – Janet Leigh, Tony Martin, Gloria Dehaven, Ann Miller. As a reviewer succinctly wrote: “This is not a bad musical. It’s also not a good one.” Let’s be realistic for a moment: if you like bouncy, happy-go-lucky 1950s musicals, this will be more than enough – if you’re not a fan, don’t come close. There are no memorable musical numbers, but they are more than amended by the buoyancy and youthful vivacity of the actors – Janet Leigh, despite not being a singer or an dancer, is enchantingly charming, and Ann Miller is as fast in her tapping routines as ever!

Shirley1The Las Vegas Story is a film noir Robert Mitchum used to make by the bucket load int he 1940s. This one breaks no new ground, nor differentiates itself from the mass of others. The most notable exception is that the lead is not played by Mitchum but by Victor Mature. Mature was not an actor, and he knows it – he always plays himself, but this is exactly what the movie needs – a  hard boiled, stones faced, stoic leading man. Matures chemistry with female lead Jane Russell, the veritable man’s woman – is superb. Vincent Price, another favorite of mine (did you ever see him in Witchfield general? Whoa boy, watch it!) is slimy and hammy as usual.

With a Song in My Heart is that rare musical where much consideration was put not only into the music, but also all the other facets of the production – beautifully written, professionally directed and finely acted. The story is touching enough – songstress Jane Forman’s rocky life story is bound to shed tears from the more demure public, but the underlining message is an positive, upbeat one – proving that “determination and grit” can truly do miracles in anybody’s life. Yet, the true strenght of the movie is the superb song book – when you look at the list of composers, one canot but stop and gape: Rodgers & Hart; Sammy Fain; Harold Arlen, Peggy Lee, Vincent Youmans, George & Ira Gershwin; Arthur Schwartz Frank Loesser; Jule Stein & Sammy Cahn. Nothing could go wrong and nothing did go wrong. It’s a true Hollywood classic, more than worth the watch 5 decades after it was made.

April in Paris is a movie that made Doris Day the Doris Day we all know and love today. I was thrilled that Doris’ leading man was not a square jawed, perfectly handsome Hollywood hunk like Rock Hudson, but Ray Bolger, the wacky looking, tall and reed thin actor, but a dancer to boot! This is a movie where your can truly see how the 1950s (the sunny side of them, anyway) looked and felt like. It’s a time long past, and there is a charming naivete to it I cannot find in today’s movie anymore (even in rom coms and other lightweight comedies). While this is not necessarily a good thing (I don’t think the world was a cute, peaches-and-cream place then), a slight nostalgia creeps up and makes it an interesting viewing experience. Doris is the plucky, likable girl-next-door with a strong current underneath, a role she would play to perfection int he rest of 1950s and the 1960s. While the choreography leaves much to be desired (Doris even noted this in her autobiography), kudos goes to Bolger for milking it to all of it’s worth with his flawless tapping.

ShirleyTegge4Shirley appeared in another of Jane Russell’s movie, The French Line. This movie truly is one of a kind. In a time when elegance and good taste were of paramount importance to the movie industry (just look at the musicals MGM made during this time), we have a crass, vulgar movie that know that it’s crass and vulgar and doesn’t even bother to hide it! Jane Russell is granted, the perfect female lead for such a “travesty”. She was one of the few blatantly sexy actresses who made it to the top (most girls with the same brand of in-your-face sexuality never made it to even mid tier stars, let alone top tier!) and works like a charm here. The whole movie is brimming with primal energy and is untarnished with taking itself too seriously. Gilbert Ronald is a bit of a sore spot (another pretty boy with little to no talent), but otherwise more than a decent viewing.

Shirley made a hiatus from the movies, and returned one last time as a thespian in Half Way to Hell. When I saw the tag line, the rating and the summary, and all I can say it: run. It sound like a horrible movie, and it has no reviews, but let’s take it face value and imagine Shirley was better off without acting in it.

In addition to her acting, career, Shirley made a few appearances in TV series: Mark SaberThe Abbott and Costello ShowRacket Squad and I Love Lucy. They are all small, uncredited appearances that did not warrant her further engagements.

After 1961, Shirley retired for good.


In 1947, Shirley was involved pretty deep with the famous boxer Maxie Rosenbloom, and he wanted to marry her. My guess is that Shirley declined his offer, as the marriage never happened (Maxie was divorced from Muriel Faider, and he never married again).

When the press asked Shirley, who was a an expect in catching trout, how to catch a man, she said:

Elementary. Looks, grooming and domestic ability are necessary to a girl. But to interest a man, to land him and hold him, you have to be able to actively share in his interests.
I can cook, do water colors, embroider and sew as well as any girl. I tool my own leather handbags. But these things don’t interest fellows.
But, I can also ride horseback, swim, play tennis and baseball, fly planes, shot deer and fish with the best of the more virile sex. And I can tie a better fish fly than most men.

It’s an interesting story how Shirley met her first husband. A girl friend showed her a picture of Earl Shade beside Mayor Fletcher Bowron of Los Angeles, posing beside a king size marlin caught at Shade’s La Paz Fishing Club in Raja, Mexico. Shirley was smitten before even meeting the fella, and decided she must “catch” him.

A mutual pal introduced them at a dinner party. Shade ignored her, thinking her another blonde stunner – until her learned she was the creator of “Tegge Tantalizer”. The next week they eloped, during a few days off from Where the sidewalk ends.

ShirleyTegge2Thus, Shirley married Earl Hill Shade in a ceremony in LaPaz, Lower California, Mexico, on Jan. 31, 1950. According to the press, Shirley “wore a white off-the-shoulder gown and a Spanish mantilla of white lace secured by small white flowers”. The newlyweds resided in Hollywood.

Earl Shade, was born on February 15, 1923, the son of the Laren Bartlett Shades of Los Angeles. He grew up in Los Angeles. The marriage was a short lived one, and they divorced in the mid 1950s, after 1953.

Shade remarried to Robin Stroud in 1962 and died on June 18, 1985.

Shirley married Jack Ford, a WWII pilot and actor/technical consultant, sometime around 1957 or 1958. Shirley gave birth to a daughter, Jacquelyn Annelyse Susan Ford, on September 5, 1959. Sadly, tragedy struck just five days before her daughter was born – Jack was killed in a mid air collision.

Shirley remarried to Reginald K. Russell on December 17, 1960. Russell was born on June 1, 1914, in Australia and came to the US prior to 1940. He was married first to Nancy (in the late 1930s). Shirely and Reginald divorced not long after, in 1962 or 1963. Russell remarried to in 1968 to Joan E. Humphrey, and in 1972 to Leona Pendelton. He died on May 23, 1974.

In 1964, Shirley married for the third and final time to Charles F. Stoker. She and Stoker too divorced at a point. Shirley relocated to Simi Valley, California.
Interesting to note, is what happened in September 2003, when Shirley was well over both her modeling and Hollywood days:

Simi Valley, CA — A former actress and model who played “Miss 3-D” in a promo for the first major 3-D film is finally getting her due.
Half a century ago, Shirlee Tegge Stoker was hired to prance around with puppets Beany and Cecil in a short film explaining 3-D technology.
The film ran before the feature, “Bwana Devil” — a movie which ushered in the golden age of 3-D in the 1950s. However, Ms. Stoker missed the premiere of the movie because she was stuck in New York on a modeling assignment. Now 76, Stoker is getting a second chance: She’ll be attending a screening of both movies next Tuesday (Sep. 16) as part of the world’s largest 3-D film festival. It’s truly a redo for Stoker, because the screening will be at the same theater as the premiere was: Hollywood’s Egyptian Theatre.
The sassy senior says she’s “delighted to be recycled after 50 years,” but admits the job as Miss 3-D was just “a days work for me.”

She lived in Simi Valley for many years before she fell ill. Her daughter Jesse Lindell, who also had  a career in Hollywood like her parents, came to live with her and take care of her.

Shirley Stoker died on June 12, 2010 in Simi Valley, California.



Doris Weston


Doris Weston was a lucky, lucky girl who did not come to Hollywood – Hollywood came for her. While this worked wonders in some cases, in others it was a proverbial kiss of death – it’s not easy for a newcomer to carry a movie right off the bat, especially if the said newcomer is a young and relatively inexperienced songstress (like Doris was). She was given a great chance to sing opposite one of the biggest stars of the decade in a A budget movie. What happened next? Fast forward years later, and Doris Weston is but a footnote in Hollywood history. Well, let’s hear her story!


Thyra Doris Marion Swanstrom was born on September 9, 1917, in Chicago, Illinois, to Gustaf and Cecelia Swanstom. She was the youngest of two children – her older brother was named Stanely. Her parents were both born in Sweden and emigrated to the US in the early 1900s.  

The Swanstoms moved to New York at some point in the 1920s. Doris was a talented child with an active imagination and an interest in the performing arts. She spoke  abit ofher parents native language, swedish. When Doris was 9 years old, her parents took her to listen to Irene Bordoni, the famous French soprano. Doris was so spellbound after the performance. There was no doubt – she was to become a singer. Her parents were very receptive of her wish – they enrolled her into the Children’s Professional School. Her mother when she was 16, in 1933, and she was put into custody of her aunt Nan and her husband, Herman Reksting.

Doris worked diligently on her singing skills, and made her stage debut at the age of 17 in “The great waltz” – she was one of the showgirls. This in turn triggered her career in the radio world – at the Major Bowles Hour, a popular radio show in New York. This got her a gig at the Rainbow Room, where she was so popular she lasted nine weeks. Somebody from the Warner Bros stable saw her in the Rainbow room, and decided to test her for the screen. After passing the tests, she departed for Hollywood.


Doris had the luck of being cast into leading roles from the very first day she came to Hollywood. Is it to be a blessing or a curse? Let’s take a look (but I think you can imagine how it ended). The moment she landed in Hollywood, projects were rolled for her. The first one, a George Brent movie, never belted out, but the second one did.. And it was…

DorisWeston2The Singing Marine  is great example of the kind of film Dick Powell was making all the time in the 1930s, and perhaps a good example of the general 1930s musical. It’s entertaining and charming in its way, but also has moments of downright silliness. The stories are often cardboard thin and the roles Powell played were different in name only. Powell was already an established star by the time Doris co-starred with him – and by most accounts, while pretty and with a good voice, Doris did not have that extra something to make an impression.

On the superb site, there is a page about this movie, and I quote an interesting thing:

It seems Warner Brothers though Powell would do well with any innocent actress, but Weston simply did not fit the bill. No one could replace Keeler in the Powell-Keeler team.
Powell admitted that he was lost without Ruby Keeler. “The hardest thing for me to do is listen well. You have to react to what you hear, and as a reactor I’m dead from the neck up. Ruby Keeler used to react to me, and she was good at it. But yesterday I had to react to Doris Weston while she sang a song in The Singing Marine, and I sank like a chain anchor.”

While I have not watched too many Powell musicals, I have to agree – Ruby Keeler, despite her lack of acting talent, angular face and good (but not excellent) dancing abilities, was a perfect foil for Powell. Doris, obviously, not so much. It’s not truly anyone’s fault – they just did not click. And Powell was fed up with playing the singing marine by now and you can register it on screen.

DorisWeston4Singing marine was a big moneymaker, and Doris pushed on. Submarine D-1 is actually a pretty good submarine movie. George Brent (finally in a movie with Doris) is remarkably low-key and effective as the Commanding Officer. For a bit of romance, there is a love triangle between characters played by Pat O’Brien, Wayne Morris and Doris Weston. Of course Doris did not come into any prominence in this movie – it’s a mans movie, about military life in general and submarines in particular. The special effects and overall quality of the movie are astounding for that time and place – and there is so much to see, including  (as one reviewer wrote on IMDB): the use of the McCann Rescue Chamber and Momsen Lung in a dramatic rescue of men from a sunken submarine off the coast of Point Loma, California.

Want to see how bikers looked before Marlon Brando? Born to Be Wild is the kind of talky, flashy 1930s movie where the character just trade barb after barb at the expense of pacing and dynamic of the movie. And when the movie is dealing with truckers and bikers, you get the picture. A genre that would one day give us “The wild one” and “Wages of fear” was just beginning to emerge, making this movie a pioneer of sorts. Yet, take note, it is not a particularly good movie, but passable by most accounts. Let’s see what one reviewer wrote:

Look what we have going for us. We have Ward Bond, the major John Ford player, and he does a rumba in one scene. Ralph Byrd, who played Dick Tracy. There are lots of open road photography in semi-arid landscapes and California landscapes, with fast-moving cars and trucks. There’s an explosion of a diversion lock to a dam that’s fun. Plus there are several songs, lip-synched by Byrd I’d guess. These are light opera fare and enjoyable. Throw in a Spanish dance for good measure.

Well, what more needs to be said? Have to watch it to believe it.

DorisWeston3Delinquent Parents is a simple, small movie about something that can actually happen in real life (with a bit more drama, but hey, it wouldn’t be Hollywood otherwise). What seems like a low-budget quickie actually turns out to be a half decent effort.

Next, Doris made two short musical segments, It’s in the Stars and Men of Steel , both 20 minutes long, for MGM. Both can be summed up with this great line by an IMDB reviewer:

The story is old, some of the acting is dreadful and it was made on next to no budget but this is still an enjoyable musical short from MGM. Stevens and Weston are young, good-looking and so full of life and energy that it’s hard not to like them

Doris, while no talented actress, was a likable enough performer. Obviously she did not have “IT”, or she would have achieved a more prosperous career (heck, I think everyone can name a few actor who were not huge talents, but had IT and managed pretty decent careers for themselves).

Except for maybe her foray into Dick Powell territory, Doris today is best remembered for the serial Mandrake, the Magician, where she played Mandrake’s girlfriend. The fact that Doris was first pushed into shorts and then into a serial attests that Hollywood was on the verge of writing her off as a major star.  The serial is some mean stuff. First, Warren Hull is a magnificent lead, with an iconography easily recognized today. Secondly, it features an African-American actor in a prominent and active role, as Lothar, Mandrake’s assistant. Third, the overall serial is full of thrills, genuine “edge of your seat” moments and good acting from the leads. Yes, it’s a cheap serial and one can spot the budgeting restrains in almost every scene, but heck, when one knows serials were made on a dime, such technicalities should be pushed aside for some pure, unadulterated fun, and the serial has that in spades. Doris is typical cute, but also a second banana by all standards. 

DorisWeston5When Tomorrow Comes is a movie that happens every time Old Hollywood struck gold with something: take the same actors, modify the plot and away we go! A follow-up to the great Love Affair, it only retains the chemistry between the leads – Irene Dunne and Charles Boyer – but everything else falls a few notches down the scale of good/bad. Doris was for the first time uncredited in the movie – not a good omen.

Chip of the Flying U is a GASP! low-budget western GASP!. Yes, Doris came to that last line of defense – when an actress who was once a prosperous contender for stardom fails and ends up billed next to a horse. Seen that scenario quite a few time on this blog, didn’t we? Well, as for the movie itself, you can see it was made by people who made them by the dozens and know their job – as one reviewer wrote: “Directed at a smart enough pace to disguise most of its script and production shortcomings”. Lovers of low-budget westerns fo the 1930s and 1940s should find no great fault in it.

Doris retired after this.


Doris seemed like a nice, down to earth girl who was perhaps too good for the cold, brutal world of Tinsel Town. There is a very telling bit about her written on the superb web page

Weston was a newcomer to the screen, and her popularity took her by surprise. When a fan requested an autograph for the first time, she cried. “This is wonderful,” she said. “I never thought six months ago that anybody would ask me for a picture.”

DorisWeston6Doris had some decent publicity during the 1937/1938 season. He learned that she was adept at crying on cue (her trick: she imagined what should happen if her movie career failed. We all know what happened later, in a strange twist of irony), that she was one of the lucky ones that never gained weight, that a fan stole her licence plate, that her costar Hugh Herbert gifted her with a cigar box she used as a make up kit later on, and that she changed her surname five times before Warner Bros settled on Weston (that sounded the best, they thought).

As for her private life, Doris dated a Philadelphia manufacturer, name unknown, who almost proposed in August 1937. Even if her did, I somehow doubt that Doris would have given it all up for marriage, after working so hard for such a long time to attain stardom. Later on, his name was revealed to be Joe Linsk, and in October he allegedly dropped by Hollywood with the intention of popping that question (this time for real). No further information was given, so it’s pretty obvious he did not succeed in his endeavor.

Exactly one year later, in October 1938, it was announced that Doris would marry Dave Miller, who worked in the MGM’s shorts department. The wedding was to take place in December. That too never happened.

By that time, Doris was still acting in Hollywood, but was far from the eye of the press. In 1939, Doris married her first and only husband, Martin T. Borden.

Borden was born on January 28, 1907, in New York. Both of his parents were Russian immigrants. He lived in Rhode Island with his mother and siblings after his father died. He worked as a fur and clothes salesman for the Hollywood elite.

The couple lived in Beverly Hills in 1940, but moved later to the East coast. They had two children, a son, Weston Borden (born on October 13, 1943), and a daughter, Patricia Borden (born on December 15, 1946). Her son Weston grew up to be an eminent chemist, currently a professor of Computational Chemistry and Welch Chair in Chemistry at the University of North Texas.

Doris Borden died on July 27, 1960, in Scarsdale, New York, after a lengthy battle with lung cancer.

Her widower, Martin T. Broden, died in March 1982 in King, Washington.

Jan Buckingham

Jan Buckingham

Jan Buckingham was given the huge honor of acting in many a movie made by Preston Sturges, one of the foremost comedic directors of the 20th century. Why? Well, she was his niece – and here we also have the answer of how Jan broke into Hollywood. Yet, Jan was pretty realistic about her capabilities – pretty and not without any charm, but not a trained actress nor a big talent, she played uncredited and supporting roles for several years, made a relatively good run (as compared to some other actresses), and retired to become a wife in 1944.


Jane Ridgway was born to Edward S. Ridgway and Gladys Ewin Johnson on July 22, 1913, in Los Angeles, California. The press claimed later that she is the famous director Preston Sturges’ niece – but how I have no idea how. Sturges was born under the name of Edmund Biden. His mother, Estelle Dempsey, most certainly remarried, but I think she had no additional children. Now, his father, Edmund C. Biden, had another son, Edmund Biden Jr., but he is a Biden, not a Johnson or Ridgway. The only other viable option was that she was related to one of Preston’s wives, but which one? Neither was a Johnson or Ridgway. Sorry, no additional information here.

Little is known about Jane’s early life. She grew up in the movie colony and mingled with actor, directors and other Hollywood personnel from her earliest years. Being Preston Sturges’s “niece”, it was only natural she traveled the high road. However, it took her a marriage and widowhood before she started acting in movies full time.


Jan was already widowed from her first husband when she entered movies in 1935. Exactly why she did it then and not before eludes me, but it could be that she was feeling lonely after her husband passed, and wanted something to distract her. Truly, acting, could be a pretty good remedy for that. Take note, Jan was to be uncredited in most of her appearances.

The Woman in Red is a Barbara Stanwyck quickie, mid 1930s style. Thin in plot, but Barbara always makes it work. Another meaty role is played by the delicious Genevieve Tobin. Gene Raymond, as the love interest, is his usual wooden self. Recommended only for hardcore Stanwyck fans.

Gold Diggers of 1935 is all you ever  wanted from a Busby Berkeley extravaganza. Thin plot but great dance choreography and that is about it. The Moon’s Our Home is a movie they don’t make anymore – a fast paced, utterly charming and fluffy romantic comedy. In the time of stupid romcoms, I wish they made movies more like this. They are not master pieces, don’t even try to be master pieces, but the rapport between two mains stars (Margaret Sullavan and Henry Fonda – divorced in real life by the time the movie hit the theaters) is pure gold, the script is witty, and the supporting actors are tailor made.

The Case Against Mrs. Ames, made after a well known book, is Madeleine Carroll’s movie all the way. She gets decent support from George Brent (wasn’t he always a second fiddle for a strong female lead? Well he ain’t no Gable, if you catch my drift). As one reviewer wrote on IMDB:

English actress Madeleine Carroll delivers a convincing performance in a dramatic role of the kind that she was, unfortunately, given too few opportunities to exploit during her career. As Hope Ames she reveals a compelling sense of emotionalism that was never over-wrought and remained contained, but not blunted, by a cool, elegant exterior. Every thing about her had a sense of elegance and refinement that is so characteristic of the exquisitely beautiful English actress, from her angelic countenance to her flawless diction. Even in the highly fraught scenes where she tries to regain the love and trust of her estranged son never descend into rank sentimentality, but elicit a welling poignancy at the heart-felt expression of affection that only a mother could feel for her child.

Easy to Take  is another one of those lightweight romantic comedies. You might ask, why should I watch ANOTHER movie like that. Well, one reason only: the two stars, Marsha Hunt and John Howard, both perfectly charming in their own way. Plus, there is a bunch of kid talent displayed during a radio segment. I like Marsha Hunt, she is such a true Hollywood legend! And Howard was very, very handsome.

The Lady Objects is a movie I like from the get go. A story about a successful female lawyer, who proves that she can be both a career woman and a family woman. And the superb Gloria Stuart plays the lead. Even if it’s a little rough around the edges (like most B movies), it makes a fascinating watching experience.

Men Against the Sky is an aviation movie only aviation buffs should watch. It’s not a bad piece of work, but you can only truly enjoy it if you understand the state of aviation in the early 1930s. On a plus side, it featured Wendy Barrie, my absolute favorite!

Christmas in July is a less known, but also a more sedate, mature Preston Sturges movie. Warped up in a Depression era story are some very poignant questions about the nature of success and exactly what does our society deem the most important trait a man has? Dick Powell and Ellen Drew are good as the leading couple, but the supporting actor make this a feast: Ernest Truex and Raymond Walburn give top of the shelf performances!

Mexican Spitfire Out West is a Lupe Velez movie with Lupe Velez in a supporting role. What? Oh yes, exactly what it says on the tin. It’s a Leon Errol vehicle all the way. He plays a double role (both staple of the series, Uncle Matt and Lord Epping), and enjoying it to the hilt! Still, like many from the series, it’s a dim witted movie with little to recommend it. Donald Woods, who plays Lupe’s husband, is easy on the eyes but a sub par comedian, and the great comic actress Elisabeth Risdon is more or less wasted in her role. While it does have a slight charm of it’s own (I sure like the world charm, don’t I?), not worth watching.

Life with Henry is a typical Jackie Cooper movie of the period. A moronic plot but likable enough actors. Let’s Make Music is an unusual but interesting musical. The leading actress is actually Elizabeth Risdon, playing a musical teacher about to retire, and double questioning her life’s work. How many movies can you name with a lead who is both a female and +50 years old? Well, now you have it! The music is supplemented by Bob Crosby and his Bobcats (yes, the brother of that Bing Crosby). It features at least one hit song and turned out to be a good enough musical. Bravo for Hollywood for tackling these kind of stories!

Virginia, a Madeleine Carroll/Fred MacMurray pairing, deals with the aftermath of the American Civil War. The south is slowly disintegrating, and the Yankees are buying the plantations. Melodramatic as it can be, with an unbelievable story and over the top dialogue, it’s still a decent movie, and the leads make it work also (I love, love Madeleine. Such a lady! Fred was a good actor, but I heard so many things about him as a person that I personally don’t like that I can’t separate his movie persona from his real persona. My bad, I admit). Also watch out for Sterling Hayden, that handsome hunk of a man (whom I also like quite a lot).

The Lady Eve is a Preston Sturged classic, and I think it needs no additional words spent on it. Watch it if you haven’t by now!

One Night in Lisbon came next. What to say? As Leonard Maltin wrote about it: Mild screwball comedy with gorgeous Carroll falling in love with flier MacMurray despite interference from his ex (Morison). Looks pedestrian enough. Yet, her next movie is truly a highlight… Sullivan’s Travels is another Sturges classic that needs no introduction. Veronica Lake at her alluring best, mmmm…

Miss Annie Rooney gave Jan a credited role. Hurrah! Still, the movie drew very much mixed reviews – from being a charming Shirley Temple movie to being a brain dead, stupid romcom. I guess you can’t account for taste, but Shirley was growing up and could not be bothered to play girls anymore, so this was not wholly unexpected (I could hardly imagine Shirley graduating to serious, Bette Davis dramatic roles at the age of 14! Give the kid a break!). But if you like cute, endearing movies with little plot and a bit of soul, this is it!

After Midnight with Boston Blackie is a Boston Blackie quickie, short but well made. The Miracle of Morgan’s Creek is the last Preston Sturges movie Jan appeared in. It’s another classic and needs no further describing.

Lady in the Dark is another unusual but interesting movie. It progressively melts into a fashion and millinery extravaganza, but the core story is something worth taking notice of – one of the few movies dealing directly with deep psychology and the huge role of subconsciousness in our daily life. And it was a big budget production, surprisingly – meaning Hollywood took could take artistic risks when somebody decided it (often movies with these kind of touchy, double edged themes were low budget ones where there was little to lose). Ginger Rogers gives one of her most inspired performances here. The male supporting roles are also pretty decent (Ray Milland, Warner Baxter, Jon Hall)

Practically Yours is Jan’s last movie. Another Claudette Colbert/Fred MacMurray vehicle, while not a completely pedestrian effort, is not a great piece of worth either. It’s a mediocre, nicely made movie worth watching once if you like the leads and enjoy 1940s screwball comedy.

Jan retired after this.


There is only ONE photo of Jan on the net. I apologize for that, but I could not find more. She was more of a socialite than an actress, so this is to be expected.

Jane married Thomas Buckingham on August 20, 1932, at at the age of 19. Buckingham was born on February 25, 1895, making him considerably older. He was a successful director and writer, making his start in silent movies in 1920 and working steadily ever since.

Tom was Jan’s foray into Hollywood society and movies. By all accounts, their marriage was a happy one.

Sadly, it did not last long – Buckingam died on September 7, 1934, after some surgical complications. Jan was devastated and it took her a long time to get over her loss.

Jan was an active woman who traveled widely (she visited Paris several times before WW2 started), and was best friends with several Hollywood personalities, like Ruth Hilliard, Jimmy Ritz and Bob Armstrong.

She resumed dating other man in late 1936. In 1937, she was dating Al Kingston for a few months. In late 1940, she was seen with writer Robert Buckner, the ex of actress Mary Doyle. There were some bogus rumors the two married. Interestingly, Jan got married, just not to Robert!

Jan eloped with Pasadena oilman, Taber Mahler, to Las Vegas on April 14, 1942. Taber Hasler Mahler was born on July 13, 1895 in Boston, Massachusetts. At some point, he moved to California. In 1935 he married Virginia Alice Baughman, who brought her two daughters in the marriage, Shirley and Antoinette. Virginia’s former husband, Cyril Fay Moseley, left the three to fend for themselves. The marriage ended with Virginia’s death on June 22, 1939. Jan more or less gave up her career to become a society wife.

The Mahlers lived the high life in California. They often commuted to Mexico for holidays, along with Palm Springs and Kona Coast, and mingled with the local genteel society. In 1960, the whole family moved to Mazatlan, into a huge Spanish style colonial home with a living room 66 feet big. They did not have any children.

What exactly happened is a mystery to me, but one moment Jan was happily married to Tabor, even accompanying him to a check up at the St. Luke’s hospital – next we know, she takes a Pasadena home for the summer season. All seemed fine and dandy. However, things were about to change. Her husband got ill, and passed away on April 14, 1962.

After a period of widowhood, Jan remarried on November 21, 1962. Her new husband was named James Robert Moiso and was younger than Jan, born on March 6, 1917 in New Mexico. His parents were of Italian origin.

Anyway, Jan continued her social life, just not as Jan Mahler but Jan Moiso. Her third marriage was a happy one, and was to last until her death.

Jan Buckingham Moiso died on March 12, 1988, in Pasadena, California.

Her widower, James Moiso, died on May 15, 2001, in Pasadena, and was buried next to her.

Gayle Mellott

James Montgomery Flagg  "Gayle Mellott "  Charcoal - Museum Purchase 1971

Gayle Mellott… Stunningly beautiful, not without charm, and with a strong showbiz background… So, what went wrong? I honestly have no idea. Maybe she did not catch the right breaks, maybe she was not “talented” enough, maybe she was too “beautiful”… But, as it happens so frequently in Hollywood, there are no sure answers, and Gayle remains one of many actresses that never realized even a bit of their potential.


Edna Gayle Mellott was born on August 21, 1916, to Lawrence Clement Mellott and his wife Frances Wick in Wheeling, West Virginia. She was the middle of three children – her older brother, Lawrence, was born on March 17, 1914 (in New York). Her younger sister, Nancy, was born on April 27, 1920 in West Virginia.

Her father was from Ohio, and her mother from West Virginia. The family lived in Wheeling with two lodgers. While the papers paint Gayle as a member of a rich southern family, I get the impression her parents were normal, working middle class. Gayle attended high school there, and developed a love for horses, riding form the time she was a child. Her emerging talent in dancing also became a prominent factor in her life from the time she was in her early teens. By the time she graduated from high school, there was no doubt in her mind – she would enter showbiz and make her luck there.

Gayle moved to New York in circa 1935. She used her talent for horse riding, and got a stop at the Billy Rose’s Jumbo revenue. In the meantime, to supplement her income, she modeled for John Powers Agency and did a bit of summer stock. She also studied designing and attended beauty pageants with some frequency. To further her career, she decided to move to Los Angeles in 1938.

Gayle’s father died on November 21, 1938. Her widowed mother decided to move to Los Angeles along with her youngest child, Nancy. In 1940, Frances and her three children (Gayle, Lawrence and Nancy) were living together in Los Angeles.


Gayle followed the same old story line many stunningly beautiful girls went through – the town belle comes to Hollywood, hoping to become a star, but in the ultra competitive environment of Tinsel Town, she’s not the best looking gal in town anymore. Usually these girls have little to to no acting experience (and are mostly chorus girls),never break from the uncredited tier, last for a short time and then fizzle away.

Gayle1Missing Daughters, her first feature, is a crime movie quickie with a solid cast: Richard Arlen, Rochelle Hudson, Marian Marsh and Isabel Jewell. The plot is actually pretty interesting, dealing with a try to break the Broadway Hostess ring, but the movie slid into obscurity and has no reviews on IMDB. Too bad, just one of many with a similar fate.

The Saint in Palm Springs, one of the few George Sanders made playing the famous Leslie Charteris character, this time involved in trying to find priceless stamps. It is an fine, amiable movie, a very good way to spend an hour and a half. Interestingly, Sanders himself hated the movie and considered it the nadir of his career, but he was certainly too harsh with the criticism – while no masterpiece, it’s well made, with Sanders giving his usually cool, sophisticated performance and the plucky Wendy Barrie playing his love interest with her typical gusto (can’t help it, I like Wendy Barrie). The end is quite unexpected and the whodunnit is more interesting than one perceives it at the first glance.

In the Navy  is a level up for Gayle. The plot involves crooner Russ Raymond (Dick Powell) dropping out of the celebrity spotlight, only to join the Navy under the name of Tom Halstead. He is relentlessly pursued by newspaper photographer Dorothy Roberts (Claire Dodd). The movie, despite some shortcomings (silly, silly silly), is a genuinely funny, witty romp. Powell and Dodd are a nice enough couple, and the music is more or less fine. Gayle was seemingly on her way up.

Manpower is Gayle’s most famous movie and most prominent role. The movie boasts not one or two but three top tier names: Marlene Dietrich, George Raft and Edward G. Robinson. Even is teh story was a shallow one liner, it couldn’t have been bad with that cast! While it’s not a top movie for either of the stars, . Gayle has the role of one of Marlene’s “girls”.

And then, poof pow, Gayle’s career started to slide, and slide fast. Just as one would hope better roles were waiting around the corner… No.

Gayle5Flying Blind did Gayle’s career no favors. A dull, uninteresting B movie about pilots and airplanes. I was surprised how that cast, otherwise not an untalented lot, gives so little, like they didn’t really want to act here. You can still enjoy the sight of pretty Jean Parker and luscious Marie Wilson, but it’s hardy enough to make a compelling viewing.

Hard Guy came next. I already mentioned this movie, and I am goign to quote a revierew from IDB who summer the movie nicely:

The film is set mostly in a nightclub run by Jack LaRue. LaRue had an up and coming career with MGM, but by 1940 was forced to act in anything–and this fit that bill nicely. As he often did, he played a heavy–a cheep hood hiding in the guise of respectability. His specialty was getting the women in his employ to marry rich men and then get quickie annulments or divorces–splitting the money with him. This was a big problem with the film, as there is no reason for any woman to split the money with LaRue–it just made no sense. Nor did it really make sense for them to give up on their ‘sugar baby’ so quickly. When one of the women develops a conscience, LaRue kills her and makes it look like her new husband did it! So it’s up to a bunch of idiots to somehow unravel the mystery

Yup, what more do I need to write?

The Falcon Takes Over is another in the Falcon series of movies with George Sanders. Still, it’s not the typical Falcon movie, having a shade darker atmosphere, a complex story packed into 65 minutes. George Sanders was always the epitome of elegance and charm in his roles, and this one is no exception. This is by far the best of Gayle’s roles in her post-Manpower filmography.

Gayle3Cinderella Jones is an idiotic film. There, I said it. Okay, while I can’t claim it’s one fo the worst movie or anything similar, it has an absurd story, and the actors were obviously bored by it, you get the idea they wanted to be anywhere but on the sound stage. Just look at this summary:

Judy Jones, sings with a band and also works at an aircraft plant. She takes part in a “missing heirs” radio program and is discovered to be an heiress to a fortune. But the will provides that she must be married by a certain time or lose the inheritance. She then has to decide whether rivals-for-her-hand Tommy Coles or Bart Williams, loves her for herself or for her fortune. What’s a girl to do?

Oh yes, what more is there to add? While some movies take brainless plot but the sheer charm and vivacity of the leads push them into enjoyable viewing, not so much for this movie.

Gayle’s career was, to be frank, on the total downslide, and she retired after this movie.


Gayle was a Republican, and passionate about the choice, even trying to run for congress in her home state (she lost, obviously).

In November 1935, Gayle was just beginning to get her name in the papers for the first time, and she was dating a T. Sweeney. In late 1936, Gayle the papers pegged Gayle as a Californian bride to be. We never learn the name of the lucky fella, and it seems the marriage did not happen. In April 1937, she was seen with C. Vanderbilt Jr., who was till convalesing from his car crash. Sadly, Vanderbilt was quite the ladies man, and Gayle was probably just another notch on his (pretty big) belt. In May 1937, Gayle dated the clean cut, perfect American Yale boy, Larry Kelley. This was just what the society of the time expected from a girl like Gayle – date such a steady, dependable guy, get married, have kids. Yet, it seems Gayle was not quite the type to take that advice…

In February 1943, it was reported that the luscious Gayle was dating Al Busiel, the millionaire cosmetics firm executive. The two weer wed in early march 1943.

Alfred Hamilton Busiel was born on 1900, in Chicago, Illinois, to Aaron Cohen and Miriam Cohen. His siblings were Simon Cohen Coates; Esther Wallace; Ida Patten (Padnos, Cohen); Otto (Abraham) Jay Cohen; Syma Busiel; i Florence Hamburg. He was a savvy businessman and became a executive with the lady Esther Comspetics company by the time he was 40 years old. 

Gayle4He was married once before to Carolyn Busiel, and had a daughter with her. Unfortunately, Gayle and Al’s marriage was a catastrophe from the very beginning. At the time when most newlyweds experience bliss as they will never experience again, Gayle and Al quarreled constantly. Busiel tried to remedy it with expensive gifts, but hey, we all know that never works, right? By September, it was more or less all they could take, and a separation occured. In November, it was in the divorce court.

Some dust was raised int he papers due to the divorce,  but than again, the papers just loved it when a showgirl marries a millionaire after a short courtship and then divorced him not long after. They preyed over such opportunities like vultures. Gayle accused her husband of running away fromt he couple’s shared home with some valuables and the horses her gifted her (WHAT? How?!). After some tiffing, Gayle was awarded a handsome sum (undisclosed in the papers, unfortunately), but had to return the 50 000$ necklace he gifted her. Some fine gentleman he is!

After his divorce from Gayle, Busiel married Suzette Childeroy Compton, a noted writer and member of the jet set. It was her second marriage. Busiel died suddenly in Honolulu, Hawaii, in 1951.

Little is known what happened to Gayle after the divorce. She gave up her career, and slipped into total obscurity. I have a nagging feeling I once read that she dated George Raft in the 1950s, but I could not find that newspaper article anywhere. I have no idea if she ever remarried, but she died with her maiden name, signaling she was single at the time.

Edna Gayle Mellott died on in December 16, 1988, in Los Angeles, California.