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 they 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 the 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.

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 hold 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 1959, 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 and 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.

 

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