More Yank Cover Girls – Part IV

And we continue with the charming Yank Pin Up girls…

May Moniz

MAyMoniz_2

There is almost nothing about May Moniz on the web. Yet, she was the only Yank Cover girl to come out of Hawaii, where WW2 started for the US.

This is almost the only article I could find about May:

There are some outstanding reasons why May Moniz, who is only 17 years old, has already become one of the most photographed lovelies on Oahu – as any fool can plainly see. Her talents include dancing in various USO shows which have toured the island, as well as sitting around swimming pools occupying black silk bathing suits like this. BRIEF hereby endorses any world planner who will include May – or a reasonable facsimile – as one plank in a Postwar Plan for the Returning Soldier. The photo is by our incredible Cpl Harold Klee, who spent two long years out here photographing Oahu beauties as a hobby. He is now Down Under, where his opportunities are slightly more curtailed.

Who was May? It’s just a uneasy coincidence that there were 2 May Monizes in Hawaii, both born in 1928 in Honolulu. Which one is our May I have no idea. One lived with her widowed mother, younger sister and lodgers, the other with her aunt and uncle and younger sister.

What I do know is that May was supposed to graduate from Roosevelt High School in Honolulu and then relocate to New York to become a model. During the war, she danced along with her fellow Hawaiian girls in The Flanderettes, a USO troupe directed by Josephine Flanders. Unfortunately, all mentions of May afterwards are nonexistent.

May L. Moniz died in 1984 in Hawaii, and it’s very much open to discussion if this is our May.

Sylvia Opert

Pinup_SylviaOpert_Jan31_43v1n33681

Sylvia Opert was born in 1924, in Johannesburg, South African Republic, daughter of Maurice and Fannie Opert, Lithuanian immigrants. The family moved to California several years after her birth (and lived there at least from 1929). Maurice and Fannie divorced in the mid 1930s, and Sylvia stayed with her mother. The two lived in Beverly Hills, with Sylvia working as a dancer since high school. She danced ballet originally, and by 1940 was a part of the Ada Broadbent Ballet troupe.

Various newspaper articles claimed she studied music and composition in France and Switzerland. While this could be true, it means that she lived in the US and commuted to France and Switzerland during the 1930s. Sylvia spoke flawless French, and this later helped her land movie roles. She also specializes in exotic and native dances, as he filmography can readily show.

SylviaOpert2She made her movie debut in 1942, in Road to Morocco. Her next movie was Happy Go Lucky, a breezy, simple and very endearing Dick Powell musical. His co-star is Mary martin, who worked better in theater than she ever did on film, but she was truly no slouch! The plot is typical for the genre – Martin plays a gold digger who wants to nag a rich husband. Powell plays a beach boy who sees right through her, but decided to help her to spite his long time enemy (rich yacht boy, played by Rudy Vallee). but true highlight of the movie is the pairing of Eddie Bracken and Betty Hutton. Boy, those were some dynamos! Then came Background to Danger, tightly plotted, well made spy thriller. Yep, it’s a Casablanca rip off, but like most rip offs, it never hits the high ground. Perhaps part of the reason lies in George Raft, a menacing man who could do wonders on the screen but not a particularly good actor (imagine him in Shakespearean plays! Exactly!). The supporting cast is top notch and worth of better leads like Humphrey Bogart – Sydney Greenstreet, Peter Lorre, Brenda Marshall. It never was and never will be a top-tier movie, but it’s a decent example of the genre and keeps you on the edge of the seat.

And of course, like many others in Hollywood, Sylvia appeared in Thank Your Lucky Stars. She then had a small but memorable role in The Desert Song. She took some time of to get married, but as soon as she divorced, she was back in the saddle with two short features – Princess Papaya and Dance Comique. Sylvia’s last movie was Devotion, about the lives of the Bronte sisters. It’s a typical over the top drama, Hollywood style, but nobody can say that Olivia de Havilland and Ida Lupino are not good actresses – their warm and engaging performances give the movie a shining quality it otherwise wouldn’t deserve. The supporting cast is pretty good also – Sydney Greenstreet, Nancy Coleman, Arthur Kennedy, Dame May Whitty.

SylviaOpertIn 1944, there were stories that LeRoy Prinz discovered her while eating lunch in the studio commissary. Again, I assume this is just a publicity plot, as Sylvia was a seasoned dancer who did her bit, not a wide eyed starlet who just came to Hollywood hoping for a lucky break. That beak sadly never came, and her movie career ended in 1946. She continued dancing in revenues and nightclubs, but most probably gave up her career upon her second marriage in 1946.

Now something about her private life. Sylvia married Newell O. Roberts on April 30, 1943. Roberts was born on August 7, 1916, in Texas. A medical doctor, he enlisted into the army in 1940, and later became a Captain, serving in the 94th Fighter Squadron with 5 victories. I guess this was a typical wartime marriage between two people who hardy knew each other. Accordingly, the marriage lasted only a short time and they divorced in 1945. Roberts returned to his native Texas after the war, and went on to marry Carolyn Ann Roberts in 1956, divorce her and then marry Patricia A. Winkler in 1969, and later divorce her in 1979. He died on June 6, 2010, in Comal, Texas.

Sylvia moved fast onto her next husband. On January 15, 1946 she married Jack H. Spiro. Spiro was born on November 24, 1906 (making him almost 20 years older than Sylvia) in Pennsylvania, to Louis and Sadie Spiro. They moved to New York, where he worked as a jewelry salesman. The couple settled in Los Angeles. They had two sons, Lee Mark, born on December 14, 1949, and Richard Martin, born on August 20, 1954. They divorced sometime after 1954. Spiro died on January 3, 1976.

In December 1967, Sylvia married Harvey Bernstein. They divorced in April 1969. On May 1, 1974, she married a Mr. Strauss or a Nathan Boxer in Dade, Florida.

Unfortunately, I could not find any additional information about Sylvia, so I have no idea if she is alive or dead. As always, I hope she had a good life.

Helen Talbot

Helen Talbot2-Yank

 

Helen Darling was born on April 7, 1924, in Concordia, Kansas, to Edward and Arby Darling. She had an older sister, Dorothy, born in 1909, and an older brother, Daniel. Her parents were already in middle age when she was born – her mother was 45, her father 54. She grew up in Concord. Both of her parents died by 1937, and she was adopted by the Smith family. She lived with them until 1941, when she relocated to Los Angeles to live with her brother Dan and his wife. She graduated from high school in Los Angeles and started to work as a model by 1942.

Helen was allegedly discovered by fashion designer Don Loper in 1943, and this catapulted her to Hollywood. She then worked with Don Red Barry on his show, and started a movie career not long after. Her filmography is full of low-budget westerns (Canyon CityPistol Packin’ MamaCalifornia JoeOutlaws of Santa FeSong of NevadaSan Fernando ValleyCorpus Christi BanditsLone Texas RangerBells of RosaritaTrail of Kit CarsonSong of MexicoDon’t Fence Me In ) which I will not even try to review as everybody who reads the blog knowns of my dislike for the subgenre.

Helentalbot4Her other movies were a mixed bag at best. She appeared in Up in Arms (after all this time, this movie pops up again and again) and Rosie the Riveter, both light fare but fun movies. And then came a horror, The Lady and the Monster, bases on Curt Siomdak’s novel, Donovan’s Brain.  The plot: In a rural castle two medical men and a woman assistant are experimenting with brain chemistry and energy. After an airplane crash, they take a human brain of one of the victims to continue their work. The brain is of a criminal mind that gradually takes over the medical assistant’s mind periodically to do more evil. The movie is polarizing in so many ways – it has decent direction and very good set design. Cinematography is also on the level. However, the actors are a mixed bag here. Erich Von Stronheim is as menacing as always, but Richard Arlen is a tad stiff and Vera Ralston is, as always, absolutely terrible. It’s not a particularly god movie, but a watchable one. The 1953 remake with Lew Ayres is superior in every way.

Helen appeared in two Jane Withers vehicles, first Faces in the Fog, a long forgotten but actually not-the-worst movie about two youngsters who fall in love and everybody and everything stands in the way of their happiness, and then in Affairs of Geraldine, a similar convoluted love story. Swingin’ on a Rainbow was another Jane Frazee musical, low-budget but pleasing enough.

Helen Talbot1She also did appear in two serials, which are her only claim to fame today:  . The info is taken from the superb Files of Jerry Blake site:

Sooner or later, most of Republic’s contract players found themselves cast in a serial, and Helen was no exception. The first of her two chapter plays was 1945’s Federal Operator 99, which starred Marten Lamont as Jerry Blake, a FBI agent out to capture the suave master criminal Jim Belmont (George J. Lewis), and co-starred Talbot as Joyce Kingston, Blake’s trusty secretary and assistant. The serial’s plot consisted of a series of duels between Belmont–who concocted various impressive heists only to be  thwarted by the federal agent–and Blake–who kept checkmating Belmont but failing to capture him. This cat-and-mouse game was augmented by a clever script, some excellent action scenes and some innovative cliffhanger sequences, several of which centered around Helen’s character. The indefatigable Joyce was almost perpetually endangered throughout the serial, but managed to survive a cremation chamber, avoid being shredded by an airplane propeller, and escape rolling off a cliff in a laundry basket. While Talbot’s youthful and ingenuous appearance kept her from seeming entirely convincing as an FBI operative, it also made her character instantly appealing; the audience found it easy to be concerned about this sweet-looking girl’s perils.

Her second serial was King of the Forest Rangers. Another quote: 

Talbot’s second and final serial was King of the Forest Rangers (Republic, 1946). One of the last Republic serials filmed largely on location (in the picturesque pine woods of California’s Big Bear Lake), this cliffhanger dealt with the attempts of the villainous Professor Carver (Stuart Hamblen) to get his hands on valuable minerals concealed in some ancient Indian towers. Forest ranger Steve King (Larry Thompson) investigated the crimes spawned by Carver’s schemes, with the help of local trading post proprietor Marion Brennan (Helen Talbot). A good serial that could have been better, King of the Forest Rangers featured two rather lackluster leading performances; hero Thompson was low-key to the point of dullness, while villain Hamblen was too unthreatening in voice and appearance to make his character suitably sinister. However, both actors received an assist from their energetic aides–Hamblen from nasty henchman Anthony Warde and Thompson from the chipper Helen, whose wholesome, “All-American” good looks suited the serial’s rustic, outdoorsy milieu nicely.

Helen Talbot3And now for some private life information. In early 1944, Helen was deeply involved with Don “Red” Barry, and they were engaged in August 1944. They dated for a few months more, and were often seen around town in various posh restaurants. Barry was known as a charismatic man, but with a nasty temper and an over inflated ego.

Thus, it came as so surprise to me that, in the end, Helen married her high school chum, Richard M. Hearn, in the mid 1945. Hearn was a navy flyer during the war. They moved to South Bend, Iowa where he attended Notre Dame University and earned his degree in Corporate Law before returning to West Los Angeles.

Her daughter Kathleen Mary Hearn was born on November 15, 1950 in Los Angeles. Hearn died in about 1962. In 1969 Helen married Larry Bailey, owner of a bakery in Northridge, California. Larry died about 1980 and Helen moved to La Jolla, California.

Helen Darling Bailey died on January 29, 2010, in La Jolla, California.

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More Yank Cover Girls – Part III

Moving on to the next installment of these short biographies… We have one more installment like this to go before going back to normal full length bios…

Eileen Coghlan

Eileen Coghlan

Eileen Coghlan was born on to Charles F. Coghlan and his first wife, Margaret Johnson, in the early 1920s. Her older sister, Rosamond, was born in 1919. Her mother, born in Wisconsin on February 9, 1898, was the daughter of noted silent actor, Arthur V. Johnson (who died of tuberculosis in 1916, just a year before she married). Her father, Charles, born in 1897 in Massachusetts, sure had an interesting life story!

Taken from his obituary:

Coghlan had an illustrious theatrical background. His mother was the famous actress Rose Coghlan, a leading lady from 1885 to 1915. He was born in Boston where his mother was playing at the time. His father, playwright Charles Jordon, died six months after he was born. Both parents came to America from England. He attended Staunton Military Academy and Fordham University. He got his start in the theatrical world when he was only ten.

In 1918, he appeared with his mother and Ethel Barrymore in “The Lady of the Camelias.” He associated with the great names of show business, often appearing with them in various productions. He numbered among his friends the Barrymores, Eugene O’Neill and Jasper Deeter. Coghlan not only appeared in many stock shows but turned to the motion picture field in his early days. He played with such stars of the day as William S. Hart and Pearl White.

The Coghlans moved a lot, owning to where his father found work. They lived for a time in Hollywood, where her sister married her first husband.

The Coghlans moved to Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, where Charles became director of the Harrisburg Community Theatre, in 1942. In 1945, he joined Gene and Henry Otto to reopen the Gretna Playhouse in 1945. The theater at Mt. Gretna had been started by A.E. Scott, who ran it for years before World War II forced it to close down.

It was here that both Rosamond and Eileen did much of their thespian work. In 1943, Eileen, already a seasoned theater actress, made her Hollywood debut in Thousands Cheer, a lively, happy go lucky and well made musical. Eileen was signed with Columbia, and appeared in two of their movies: Swing Out the Blues, a minor and completely forgotten musical, and the superb None Shall Escape, a chilling and ominous piece of work, brutally honest in depiction of Nazi atrocities during WW2. Special highlight of the movie is Alexander Knox, a wonderful actor, who plays a normal man gone completely wicked and twisted under the Nazi regime. Marsha Hunt, always a welcome presence in any movie, rounds it up nicely. Eileen appeared in only one more movie, Dark Waters, a mediocre Merle Oberon thriller, before she took a breather.

During WW2, Eileen was a very popular pin up, and even traveled to Mexico so that the Life photographer could take her photos. She continued to act after the war.

She returned to the theater for a time, and only came back to Hollywood in 1948. She made two movies for Enterprise Productions. The first is No Minor Vices, a lukewarm remake of Unfaithfully Yours. I really like Dana Andrews, but boy, it’s true, he wasn’t a comedy actor in the slightest. Louis Jourdan, such a good actor, plays plays the same charming rouge role as he did in most of his movies. Sad, sad. The second is Force of Evil, a excellent movie with a tour de force performance by John Garfield.

Eileen took another breather and then came back in 1950 with Bright Leaf. Now, this movie has everything for it – solid script, great cast, good production values, but it ends up a tasteless mush. Okay, it’s not that bad, but it’s not nearly as good as it could have been. I Can Get It for You Wholesale is a very well made, plotted and acted movie with Susan Hayward in the lead. She then had an uncredited appearance Lightning Strikes Twice, an atmospheric if formulaic movie with Ruth Roman and Richard Todd. Eileen’s last three movies were cute and funny 1950s fluff – they can brighten your day, but are far removed from art and profound movie making – Two Tickets to BroadwayThe French Line and My Sister Eileen

In 1954, Eileen went to Italy and met Fabio Fiorentino a handsome hotel owner. Fiorentino was born on November 28, 1929 in Italy. They married there the same year, and returned to the States, opting to live in California. Eileen retired from movies to devote herself to family life.

Her daughter Lydia was born on September 22, 1956, and her daughter Vivian was born on August 30, 1960.

Eileen and her husband live in Newport Beach, California.

Selene Mahri

SeleneMahri

Let’s get one thing straight – Selene was not an actress, and she does not have one credited performance anywhere, not the cinema and not the theater. But finally we have another socially butterfly at our disposal. Her lack of movie roles is more than made up by her rather impressive marital record.

Solveig Ann Mari Eklund was born on December 17, 1924, in Finland, to Karl and Thyra Eklund. Little is known about her childhood, but she and her mother came to the US in 1942 (due to the war perhaps? The papers claimed they just came to see a fair, but somehow I don’t buy it). Solveig was easily noticed by scouts and she started modeling, rising to the top pretty quickly.  Allegedly, she could speak five languages (as far as I know, Finish, Swedish, German, what are the other two?) but very little English. Within a short time she was earning as much as $25 for an hour. She was well known for her silky blonde hair. She was on the WAC recruitment poster and was could be found on as many as 8 covers yearly.

Now, it’s Selene’s private life that is of interest. In September 1943, she dated Victor Mature, stationed in the Coast guard. She then dated Emilio Tagli, wealthy Chilean, for some time in early 1944. By June 1944, there were rumors the two would wed. She was also courted by Stavros Niarchos, wealthy Greek shipping magnate.

In 1947, Selene revealed a bit about herself – she worked only with photographer she liked, was easy to make enemies because she chose to do things her own way. She never went below 40$ an hour for a session and never worked before noon. She lived in Long Island and raised pet poodles in her house.

In August 1947, Selene married millionaire Albert George Rupp in Garden City. They divorced in 1949 and she married John Wendell Anderson II in Grosse Point, Michigan that same year. John was born on September 16, 1923 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. In his later years, Anderson was described as a former industrialist, world traveler, avid sports fisherman and golf enthusiast. He came from a prominent Michigan family. They had two sons: John and Christopher. They divorced in 1957. In 1958, Jack married starlet Lisa Ferraday.

On January 2, 1958, she married her third millionaire, William Weaver. That year, it was revealed that Selene was a passionate deep sea fisher, dabbled in painting for a time, was a good piano player (Chopin being her favorite), that she played bridge frequently, that she was an arm chair golfer and a frustrated interior designer. Her favorite piece of jewelry was her husbands Phi Beta Kappa Key that she wore on a bracelet. The couple moved to New York not long after they wed.

Selene and William divorced in 1972. She kept his surname and didn’t remarry.

Selene E. Weaver lived in New York City in 2009. I hope she is alive and kicking today.

Peggy Corday

PeggyCorday1

Such a shame that Peggy Corday, truly an unique looking lady, got so little coverage in the press during her heyday. Thus, the info on her is slim indeed. Her pin up is another favorite – she is a wonderful combination of youthful vivacity with elegance. Just look at her hand, the way she modestly holds her negligee… Whauza! Peggy was probably born in the early 1920s (but I have no idea where or who her parents were. Searching for Margaret Corday gave me no conclusive evidence).

In 1943, she got her first newspaper mention: “Red-haired Peggy Corday, who will portray Venus in the forthcoming musical, “Helen of Troy”, is being groomed for her role by Mikhail Mordkin.” She did play Venus in the mentioned play – her Yank cover photo show her during one such a performance. Very good choice for Venus, I must say. Unfortunately, this did not catapult her to any stardom.

Peggy was the assistant to Robert Ripley, from Ripley’s Believe it or not, in 1949, when Ripley died after a show. Nothing else is known about her.

Ernie Clarke

Ernie Clarke

Another interesting woman, Ernie Clarke was the scion of a acrobatic family who did trapeze acts from the time she was 9 years old. Imagine that! Anyway, everything you need to know about Ernestine in her obituary in the Telegraph web site. I’ll copy paste most of it here:

She was born in New York on October 16 1921 and christened Elizabeth Laura Clarke, although she was always known as Ernestine after a friend of her father’s made play of a family resemblance and dubbed her “Little Ernie”. By the time she was three months old she was travelling to engagements with her parents, and she made her debut in the ring when she was big enough to be put on a horse.

Her parents passed on their circus skills to her and at the age of nine she joined the family act, graduating to the trapeze when she was 11. “The first time I missed the flying bar in practice,” Ernestine later recalled, “my mother was watching. As I fell into the net she fainted and they had to carry her out.”

In the late 1930s, the Clarkes appeared with Poodles Hanneford’s comedy riding act and then in the musical Jumbo at the Hippodrome in New York. They also worked with Tom Mix, the star of many Western films. By 1941, Ernestine Clarke was beginning to make her own reputation, and the writer Earl Chapin May raved about her “unusual beauty of features and figure, high intelligence, charm and character.

“She can be built up,” he went on, “to be a star in the circus, on the stage and the movies. As either a rider or flyer she has grace, personality and a definite histrionic ability. Moreover, she has the carriage of a ballet dancer.”

Although the entry of America into the Second World War led to the break-up of the family act when her uncles were called up for war work, by 1942 Ernestine Clarke’s own career appeared to be going from strength to strength. That year, she was signed to the Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus, where she was to present her own equestrian act and to ride with the highly regarded Italian troupe The Cristianis at a salary of $350 per week.

But when she arrived in Florida to rehearse with the circus, she discovered that its manager John Ringling North had been ousted from his post by other members of the family, and her contract had been effectively cancelled.

She stayed on with Ringlings, however, as a replacement for Antoinette Concello, the star of the show’s trapeze act, who had injured her shoulder. When the Concellos then left the circus, Ernestine Clarke was invited to form her own trapeze troupe, which she did with catcher Eddie Ward and flyer Clayton Behee.

In 1944, she presented a solo riding spot and her own flying act for Ringlings, and appeared on the cover of the show’s programme that year. She was with the circus in July 1944 when at Hartford, Connecticut, the big top burst into flames and 168 people were killed and almost 500 more injured.

As for her private life, she married actor Parley Baer on April 9, 1946. Born Parley Edward Baer on August 5, 1914, he was also from a circus background, studied at the University of Utah, worked in a radio station, served in WW2 and started his Hollywood/TV career in the late 1940s.

The couple had two children: daughters Kathleen Baer, born on June 29, 1952, and Elizabeth Baer, born on February 18, 1957. Both worked as trapeze artists in their professional life. Ernie and Parley lived for years in Encino, where they were active in their local St. Nicholas Episcopal Church.

Elizabeth Laura “Ernie” Clarke Baer died on August 5, 2000. Parley died on November 22, 2002.

More Yank Girls – Part II

Lets keep on moving with the Yank Cover Girls…

Gloria Anderson

GloriaAnderson

I have very little info about Gloria, sadly. I don’t even know if Gloria Anderson was her real name. Gloria was born, I assume, in the late 1910 or early 1920s, and lived in New York in the early 1940s. She worked first as a Powers Model, then as a chorus girl in the Broadway show, Stars and Garters. There she met dance director Georgie Hale, who was a Broadway staple in the 1920s, and worked in Hollywood occasionally. Georgie, a dancer by trade, was born in 1901, making him quite a bit older than Gloria.

They started dating in early 1943. Not long after, George went ot Hollywood to work as a dance director. They managed a long distance relationship for a few months, and then Gloria moved to the West coast and started her Hollywood career. She appeared mostly in musicals: Up in ArmsShow BusinessSwing Parade of 1946Night and Day (and pretty decent ones at that, although I can’t say I like those types of movies). She also appeared in three non musical movies: Life with Blondie, another of the Blondie comedies with Penny SingletonA Guy Could Change, a surprisingly decent romantic comedy, and Two Smart People, the best movie of the bunch, a Jules Dassin  half film noir half romantic comedy.

Gloria and Georgie briefly split in November 1944, just to get back again a few weeks later. They married during the Christmas season 1944. They stayed in Hollywood until mid 1946, when Goergie went back to Broadway and Gloria retired.

Their daughter Stephanie was born sometime after this (a date I believe could be correct is November 19, 1948). Georgie enjoyed major success as a producer, and their marriage was considered a very solid one. However, the couple split in mid 1955. Gloria moved out and took Stephanie with her. In 1956, Georgie was dating chorus girl Honny Gray and Gloria was in Miami, Florida for a divorce. Everything came to a halt when Georgie died unexpectedly on August 20, 1956.

Gloria was officially Georgie’s widow as they were not divorced when he died. I have no idea what happened to her afterwards – there were news that she was working as a fat check girl to make ends meet. IMDB claims she made movies in 2004, 2009 and 2016, but it remains to be seen if this really is our Gloria Anderson.

Frances Vorne

FrancesVorne

FrancesVorne1Frances’ past is shuddered in mystery. It was noted by the papers that she was of the Ukrainian extraction – this prompted me to connect Frances with the Vorne family, who immigrated from Russia (Ukraine was part of Russia back then) in the 1910s. The names were Jacob and Pearl (parents) and two younger brothers, Daniel and Martin, and a sister, Zelda. This is from the 1940 census – Frances perhaps did not live with them at that time. I assume she was born in about 1920, like most of the Yank cover girls. May 30, 1920, New York is a possible date/place. She was five feet six and a half inches tall and weighted 126 lbs, with an 36 inch bust.

FrancesVorne2Frances was a regular in the papers in about 1945, mostly due to publicity stunts. For instance, this news flash: Frances Vorne has a soldier friend who came home from overseas a few days ago with a present of the remnants of a German parachute. Frances, who likes to swim more than anything else, found that there was just enough cloth left to make a swimming suit. Frances wanted to be an actress, but she never made a movie (if IMDB is to be believed).

My own guess was that Frances was already married by 1945. She divorced her groom in 1946. She continued working as a model at least until 1949. She falls of the newspaper radar from then on.

Frances Vorne (possibly) died on August 8, 1990, in New York.

Betty Anne Cregan

Betty_Anne_Cregan_2

While you can find at least tidbits of information about every other cover girl, Betty is completely shuddered in mystery. There is literary nothing on her. Such a shame, for her cover is a great one. I assumed that her full name was Elizabeth Anne Cregan, or even Elizabeth Anne Creegan. There is a Betty Anne Creegan born in 1928 (who died in 2012), but that’s all I could find. It could be our Betty, as she girl on the cover looks about 18, 19 years old. Otherwise, no luck so far. If anybody knows anything, please help!

Virginia Kavanaugh

VirginiaK

Little info here I’m afraid. She didn’t make any movies so no go as far as IMDB is concerned. She was born Virginia Kavanaugh on August 15, 1927, in New York City, to Thomas A. Kavanaugh and his wife, Frances Hopkins. She had one brother, William T. Kavanaugh, born in 1932. Her father was a secretary for a football team.

In March 1945, Virginia was chosen, by her modeling agency, Walter Thornton Agency, as the prettiest Irish American model, and posed with a shamrock on her head for St. Patrick’s day. She then falls of the radar until 1952, when she’s in a Glamour column. We learn that she is married to John T. Landry, a advertising executive (Mad men, anyone?), and that they are parents of an adorable baby daughter Sharon (born on March 27, 1950). She was a skating champion in 1944, but switched to ice skating upon her marriage to accommodate her husband. They were both outdoorsy people who enjoyed long distance walking.
Now, something about her husband (from his obit from the New York Times):

Mr. Landry spent most of his career at the Philip Morris Companies, which he joined in the mid-1950’s. He retired in 1984 as senior vice president and director of marketing and as a member of the board, to which he was elected in 1972.

He reached the top of his profession in 1963, when he oversaw development of the ”Marlboro Country” advertising campaigns, in which the Marlboro Man rode to fame around the world. He also played key roles in the development and marketing of several other Philip Morris brands, including Virginia Slims, Benson & Hedges and Marlboro Lights cigarettes.

They had three more children: daughter Jennifer (born on September 16, 1952) and sons Jack Jr. (born on November 23, 1956) and Thomas (born on October 9, 1958).
Her husband was a passionate thoroughbred bred horses (I assume she took part in it too). Another quote:

Mr. Landry was also an owner and breeder of thoroughbred race horses. His passion for the sport of kings prompted him to found the Marlboro Cup horse race, the richest thoroughbred event at the time. It was an invitational race sponsored by Philip Morris and was run each fall from 1973 through 1987.

Her husband died in 1997. Virginia was still alive in 2007. I hope she has had a happy life.

More Yank Girls – Part I

There are plenty of Yank Cover Girls who have slim pickings in terms of information. I usually don’t like to profile women where I can’t find a DOB and names of her parents, but let’s make an exception so we can learn more about these charming ladies.

Joan Lawrence

Joan Lawrence

Joan Lawrence (also called Joan Lawrence Tasch), a native New Yorker (born around 1922) and Sarah Lawrence College student, was signed to a movie contract after a talent scout saw her wearing a ravishing dress for a walk on part in a movie. The papers told it this way: “All Joan Lawrence had to do was walk past the camera in this streamlined gown. The director whistled, gave her a screen test and handed her an MGM contract. Nice work, what?”.  The year was 1943. She appeared in three very good movies afterwards: a delightful but simple musical Two Girls and a Sailor, Greer garson drama Mrs. Parkington and superb war drama Thirty Seconds Over Tokyo. Then in all fell apart. 

JoanLawrence2In November 1945, wealthy Texas oilman Robert Hungerford sues her for squeezing money out of him on a night out (she allegedly stole 2700$ off him). I am extremely ambivalent about this suit. While it is possible that Joan tried to steal the money, I doubt that taking a man (who know full well who you are and where you live!!) out on the town, and then stealing the money so he knows you stole it is the best way to do it! I don’t understand Hungerford. He, a 55 year old oilman, comes to Hollywood and goes out with a 22 year old actress. What was he expecting? Going for tea? When you date a 30 + year younger starlet you obviously have met for the first time, of course it can  get expensive. But well, anything is possible. The suit was throw out, but Joan’s time in Hollywood had gone bust. She was not to make another movie for two years.

As for her private life: in 1944, she was one of the Ziegfeld Follies, and did not have a steady beau. Then she started dating Alex D’Arcy in 1944. In 1945, she was feted by Jim Stack, brother of Robert Stack (and future husband of actress Wanda Hendrix). In February 1946, she was dating agent Louis Schurr. In 1947, She was chosen by Ronald Reagan as the girl one can never forget, and had a role in The Voice of the Turtle.

Afterwards, unable to get any more roles, she turned to theater acting, appearing in Arsenic and the old lace in a stock company. In 1949, she got one more movie role, in My Dream Is Yours, a paper thin but charming Dory Day musical. Her last TV work came in a episode of SuspenseShe then falls of the newspaper radar. I have no idea what happened to her.

Jean Trent

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No less than the esteemed director Alfred Hitchcock said that Jean Trent had the perfect feminine figure in 1944. This, however,did not help her achieve a substantial career.

Real name Opal Jones, a native of Denver, Colorado, she was a stunning brunette, five feet three and 124 pounds. I have no idea when was she exactly born, but I have found the date of October 17, 1920. She attended high school in Denver, when she appeared in a school play. She liked the experience so much she decided to go for an acting career. While this is just an option, it could be that she moved to Los Angeles during her high school years to live with an uncle and an aunt. She was an aviation enthusiast and enjoyed watching planes.

She was discovered by Hitch in a nightclub in Los Angeles. She started her career in Western Mail, appeared in Hitch’s Saboteur (not one of his best movies, but a good one nontheless), Sin Town, a forgotten Constance Bennett western. She was one of the harem girls in the colorful escapism, Arabian Nights, with our favorite handsome-but-no-talent-actors, Jon Hall and Maria Montez. She was then in Fired Wife, a typical B movie fare of the period, soundly made but not memorable in the least.

JeanTrent1She had a minor role in the The Great Alaskan Mystery serial. Next was The Singing Sheriff, a western musical with Bob Crosby. Bing’s younger brother never achieved the level fo fame comparable to him, but Bob sure knows how to sing! Like many western musicals, this one has no plot and only serves to show Bob singing. Babes on Swing Street is a forgotten comedy musical. She was in See My Lawyer, an Ole Olsen forgotten musical, perhaps notable today for the appearance of famed flamenco dancer Carmen Amaya.

In 1945, she was selected by Walter Wagner as one of the most beautiful girls in the world for his epic Salome Where She Danced. Other stunners were Barbara Bates, Duan Kennedy, Kathleen O’Malley, Karen Randle and Kerry Vaughn. Sadly, the much publicized movie is a dismal affair at best, with a insipid story and wooden acting. 

Jean finally appeared in a upper class movie – Lady on a Train, a breezy, well made Deanna Durbin movie, a curious hybrid of murder mystery, musical, and comedy. Deanna is a very likable actress with a great voice, and was nice to look. Winning combo! And truly,

Jean’s next movie was another good one – This Love of Ours, a true melodrama with a overblown story it there ever was one. Think Douglas Sirk on steroids. Listen to the story: At a convention, medical researcher Michel Touzac goes with colleagues to see stage caricaturist Targel, whose assistant Florence recognizes him…and attempts suicide. Saved by Touzac’s new technique, Florence is revealed in a flashback as Michel’s abandoned wife Karin, whom their daughter Susette thinks is dead. Can Susette cope if they now re-unite? Yet, the movie is decent proof that even soapy melodramas can work wonders when you have a talented cast and crew. The director, William Dieterle, knows what he is doing, and Merle Oberon and Claude Rains are superb in their roles.

JeanTrent2Jean appeared in Frontier Gal, a weird, slapstick comedy western. As one reviewer wrote, the axis of the movie is the love story between Yvonne de Carlo and Rod Cameron – “Their love-hate romance was unusual for any era, and would be almost unthinkable in today’s films, but it worked for this out-of-the-mainstream movie”. Also, the cinematography, done using Technicolor, is superb. Jean continued her string of good movies with Because of Him, a funny and touching Deanna Durbin/Charles Laughton pairing. Then came Night in Paradise, a colorful and enjoyable Universal fantasy about famed fable writer Aesop. Unfortunately, this did not lead to anything substantial and her career ended in 1946.

She was one of several actresses who staged a protest in July 1945 when Police Chief H.J. Schlepper of Decatur, Illinois, declared a ban against the wearing of shorts in public,

She married actor Ray Montgomery in September 1942. Ray was in a middle of making a movie and had to have a stub beard during the ceremony because of it (considered a great sin in the 1940s!). Montgomery was born on May 27, 1922, in Los Angeles, California. He started acting for Warner Bros in 1941, after graduation. As IMDB claims, he spent the next two years working in short-subjects and playing small roles in war-era films, but did not rise to leading man status. Later played “bad guy” roles on 50s TV.

In 1957, Montgomery left acting to join Ad-Staff Inc., a “Hollywood firm specializing in creation and production of jingles and other radio and tv spots,” as the TV coordinator for the firm’s Canada Dry account in the West.

She and Montgomery remained married until his death in 1998. I have no idea what happened to Jean, there is a Opal Montgomery who died on April 10, 2005, in Kern, California.

Nancy Porter

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She was heralded as a girl with the perfect body and everyone expected her to follow in Dorothy Lamour’s footsteps and become the sarong siren. Nancy Porter was born in about 1922 (I have no idea where). She began appearing on Broadway in the early 1940s, and replaces Betty Garrett in Something NancyPorter1for the boys in late 1943. She was Ethel Merman’s understudy on Broadway when she was noticed by Paramount scouts who bought her to Hollywood in 1944. She enjoyed a brief flash of fame and appeared in tow movies, Isle of Tabu, a short and completely forgotten tropical adventure, and then in Out of This World, a witty and biting musical satire on the many tiffs between TV and radio. It’s a great movie for Eddie Bracken fans, and Diana Lynn, a sweet actress I like, is also there! But that was it as far as Nancy was . She was a popular pin up during WW2 and was active in the war relief work.

Nancy was married once before she came to Hollywood and divorced by 1944. She married writer Milton Holmes on November 15, 1944, in Las Vegas, Nevada. They were wed by Judge George Marchall and went to a short honeymoon afterwards. Holmes was born in 1907, in Syracuse, New York. He started as an actor in 1927, and slowly graduated to screenwriting. He became a producer by the time he married Nancy. However, information about their shared life after 1944 is scarce at best.

What we know is that in 1946, Holmes told the newspapers that he will move to New York to give Nancy a chance to appear again in Broadway. This never happened. In 1947, the Holmeses adopted a French war orphan. In November 1949, their daughter was born. In 1952, her husband sued Columbia pictures for not promoting his movie, Boots Malone, so it can be nominated for an Oscar (hah! Do they did it back in the old days too!). What happened afterwards is a mystery but I can sum up the pieces – Holmes was blacklisted by Hollywood for suing a major studio. He never produced or directed another movie. Some of his books were later made into movies, he served as a screenwriter for a TV series in the 1950s, but his career in Hollywood was kaput. Holmes died in 1987 in Los Angeles. I have no idea what happened to Nancy.