Toni Seven

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Toni Seven is proof that a girl who lands in Hollywood, has money to burn, a great press agent and more than enough beauty, can still end up a complete unknown. Toni tried to attain stardom several times, and the second time, an extensive campaign to catapult her to stardom was coined by PR guru Russell Birdwell, but she just crashed and burned pretty soon. What a waste! Toni truly was a beautiful woman and probably had some talent in her. Too bad too much publicity killer her.

EARLY LIFE

June Elizabeth Millarde was born on July 6, 1922, in New York City, to Henry F. Millarde and Helen Elizabeth Lawson. Her mother was professionally known as June Caprice, an actress of major prominence in Hollywood, and her father was an succesful movie director. His most famous movie was If Winter comes, from 1916. by the time she was born, her parents had amassed quite a fortune and retired from active movie work. June grew up in Long Island, and attended school at Great Neck, Long Island.

On November 2, 1931, June’s father died from a heart attack, aged only 45. June was raised by her mother form them on, but sadly the elder June succumbed to a heart attack while fighting cancer in 1936. The 14 year old June was left in the care of her maternal grandparents in Long Island.

While June was materially well of, as a heiress of a considerable fortune (rumored to have been 3 million dollars), she wanted to act not for the fortune but for the fame. She moved to the West Coast after graduating from high school, and undertook extensive dramatic training before deciding to crash movies.

June signed with MGM in 1941, owning of course to her late parents friendship with producer Bob Leonard. Unfortunately, she left Metro after just a month, unhappy how they only posed her to leg art. She signed with Warner Bros and started her career anew.

CAREER

Pretty slim! Toni appeared in only five movies, although I have to say they are 5 decent movies at least! Her first movie was We Were Dancing, based on a Noel Coward play. When i say based on a ToniSeven2Noel Coward play, it means it’s a witty, sparkling, lightweight fare. And this movie is just that. don’t look for deeper, hidden meanings and something profound. Norma Shearer is delightful int he leading role. Coward + Norma = a good combo. Some people would disagree with me, but heck, Norma was perfect for sophisticated, drawing room comedies. Here she is ably supported by Mervyn Douglas, Gail Patrick and Lee Bowman.

She then followed it with Yankee Doodle Dandy, one of the best musicals to come out of her 1940s. Jimmy Cagney, what more do you need? Toni’s last movie under her Warner Bros contract was Wings for the Eagle, a love triangle set amidst  Southern California aircraft production in WWII. The lovers? Ann Sheridan, Denis Morgan and Jack Carson. What ca I say, I’m a sucker for Ann, she was such a luminous actress, but I am not a fan of either Crason or Morgan, so for me, it’s a skip.

ToniSeven1Aware that her career went nowhere fast, Toni hired Russel Birdwell and tried anew (again!). The result were only two movies – Ladies Courageous and Once Upon a Time. While not the bottom of the waist basket quality, they are far from good solid movies that Toni needed to build a career. Ladies courageous is a weird, weird, anti feminist movie (despite the more than a decent cast – ). Once upon a time is one of the lesser Cary Grant movies – it’s a movie with a strange kind of charm, unusual story (A cash-strapped theater producer promotes a nine-year-old boy’s dancing caterpillar) and features the stunning Janet Blair as Cary’s leading lady, but it’s not top tier movie making and it did little favors to anyone involved.

Toni gave up her career and publicity campaign and settled in Washington DC after this.  

PRIVATE LIFE

This is where Toni shines. If she is at all remembered today, it is because of her private life, not her slim movie career.

Toni was 5 feet, four and a half inched tall, weighted about 108 lbs, was a great horsewoman who rode frequently, and was also a good swimmer and tennis player. She disliked gossipy women, bad movies and prize fights.

TonISeven4In march 1943, she was just one of the many girls that dated Errol Flynn. She also banked heavily on her parents’ fame. A quote from a newspaper:

“Director Al Hall is giving June Millarde a break in “My Client Curly,” the Cary Grant-Janet Blair . The person who gave Al his first acting role role was Harry Millarde, June’s ‘ father, who was king bee on the old ‘Fox lot and frequently directing June Caprice (June’s mother). As time went by Al gave up his acting ambitions and became a director, but he never forgot the Millardes. So when their ‘ daughter June was up for a role in ; “Curly,” Al directed the test and saw she got the best cameraman at Columbia.”

In 1944, Toni hired Russell Birdwell to become her press agent. Birdwell was a wildly oscillating guy. While ha had major success with Jane Russell (and her bust and bra) and the search for Scarlett O’Hara (he was the brain behind this superb publicity stunt) most of his other “finds” ended up complete unknowns after a period of intense publicity frenzy. And he really tried with Toni, he really did. It just didn’t pay. For instance, Toni posed with a mama cat that gave birth to a litter of kitten with 7 toes on their paws. She also posed with a man’s black shirt, claiming she uses them as nightgowns. On the right ear she wears nothing; on the left, a large gold loop, and in the center of it, a cut out 7! She made bread with exactly 7 ingredients. She wore earrings with 7 precious stones dangling from them. Her phone number ended in 7. You get the picture…

She was supposed to star in a revue by Fort Ord, but nothing came out of it. She was very active in the war effort, going to rallies, signing pictures. Birdwell sent thousands of her pictures to the GI-as around the world – she was named the most popular pin up for the boys int he European Theater in 1945. Her photos could be found on obscure Pacific islands where there was literary nothing else!

Toni Seven has bought herself a little house in Benedict canyon. By her own admission, she knows nothing about antiques, yet is furnishing it exclusively in early American stuff.

In March 1945, Toni and five other starlets staged a strip poker session at the United National Clothing Drive. The other starlets were Ann Miller, Evelyn Ankers, Nina Foch and Renee de Marco. They all had better careers than Toni (even De Marco, who did not have a great movie career). She was also good friend with starlet Frances Vorne, who also posed for Yank. They often threw big dinner parties for their swains.

ToniSeven5In early 1946, Toni went back to her old moniker, but still remained an active pin up girl – her legs were claimed to have been “perfect” by a lieu of eminent photographers.

By 1948, June was out of Hollywood, out of movies, and living of her inheritance. She entered a hospital in October 1948 for a serious operation, and was recuperating in November 1948 in Hollywood.

Then, she was again back in the newspaper fold. How? Love! In January 1949, a certain senator Warren Magnuson, the famous lothario of Washington and a very sought after bachelor, missed the opening of Congress. Why? Because he was allegedly with Toni! There was much press furor re over the fact. His friend kindly noted to the press that Warren had been doing the Seattle nightspots with Toni for some time now. However, in September 1949 she sailed for Europe, and was beaued by Peruvian playboy, Alfredo Carreo.

More about Warren, who ended one of the most meaningful men in Toni’s life. He was born on April 12, 1905, in Minnesota, and was adopted by the Magnuson family (due to his surname, he was known as Maggie to friends). He attended college in Seattle, Washington, and settled there permanently. A member of the Democratic Party, he served as a U.S. Representative (1937–1944) and a U.S. Senator from 1944. In 1928, he was married to Eleanor Peggy “Peggins” Maddieux, but they divorced in 1935. Warren dated all around the States from then on, escorting women like actress Carole Parker and Austine McDonnell.

Toni and the senator dated on off from 1948 until 1953, although some papers pin them together in 1955. It is known that the senator married in 1964 to a Seattle widow, Jermaine Peralta, and thus he obviously never married Toni. Toni gave up her career (which is not saying much) to cater to Warren. She acted as his hostess at social functions, they traveled around a great deal, often visiting Hawaii. Warren’s close friends said that Toni was absolutely loyal to Warren, but liked to drink to much. Warren also had a weakness for vodka – it seems they were well matched here (sadly!).

ToniSeven6I sympathies with Toni on this one. She obviously wanted to get married, and talked constantly to the press about her upcoming nuptials, but the senator obliviously rebuffed her every time, until they were done. I have no idea why they broke up – but I can only guess. Maybe Toni had had enough? Maybe Warren passed on to another woman? He later romanced Monique van Vooren, another luscious starlet. He died on May 20, 1989 in Seattle, Washington. His wife died in 2011.

In 1952, Toni was seen with Hank Fisher, of the “Joe Palooka” fame.

In 1959, it was reported that June was to marry Eric Stanley, prominent in the art circles, that June. I could not find any information that proved this as a fact. She then completely falls of the radar.

June Elizabeth Millarde died in 1991.

 

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Daun Kennedy

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Yank Girls Continued… More sexy and alluring than beautiful, Daun Kennedy tried pretty hard to build a solid filmography during her brief sojourn in Hollywood. Unfortunately, like most non-trained actresses who came to Tinsel Town via either the chorus or modeling jobs, she was not a natural-born actress and thus didn’t have much to recommend her except her curvy figure and pleasing face. Predictably, she was out of Hollywood after a thin career in a few years.

EARLY LIFE

Carmen S. Kennedy was born on November 13, 1922, in Seattle, Washington, to Robert F. Kennedy and Shirley Heuston. Her mother worked as a seamstress. Her parents divorced in the 1930s, and Daun went to live with her mom in Los Angeles. However, the papers have a slightly different version of her pre-Hollywood years:

Daun started her working life as a canary with the Seattle Opera company. Laryngitis put a temporary stop to her warbling, and she took a job with the Boeing Aircraft corporation. Then Cupid nudged her in the ribs and called attention to a fellow worker, Fred MacDowell. Came a time when MacDowell thought he could better himself elsewhere, so he headed south for Lockheed. Daun promptly took after him, and likewise signed up to punch rivets into Lockheed P-38’s. Then Fred MacDowell left Lockheed, went to work for RKO as a film cutter. “He can’t do this to vie,” murmured Daun Kennedy, as she hustled right over to the same picture factory and got a job as a messenger girl. Two hours after she went to work, the new messenger was sent on an errand to the set where Kay Kyser was emoting in “Around the World.” Producer-Director Allan Dwan got an eyeful: Said Dwan to Daun: “C’mon.” Wherewith, he took the bewildered blonde to the office of Ben Piazza, head of the studio’s new talent department. And that evening Daun Kennedy’s signature was on an acting contract.

Daun Kennedy, they mean Daun Kennedy, who flew from the Lockheed Aircraft plant to become a messenger girl at RKO, circled the studio once and made a happy landing as an actress. Brown-eyed, shapely, with hair like combed corn silk, she’s currently delivering a message of personal beauty in the Eddie Cantor production, “Show Business.”The next day, also, her engagement to Fred MacDowell was announced but since then the same engagement has been broken ! Daun made her movie debut in “Around the World” and followed that performance with parts in “Government Girl,” “Gildersleeve on Broadway,” and “Show Business.”

This is somehow misleading since, based on this story, Daun was in Seattle in the early 1940s. But let’s roll with the newspaper version, and see what happened with her career!

CAREER

Daun made her debut in Gildersleeve on BroadwayThe third in RKO’s series of four movies based on radio show The Great Gildersleeve. This one has Gildersleeve traveling to New York to help out his friend Peavy. In order to help Peavy out, he has to cozy up to widowed drug company president Billie DaunKennedy2Burke. He also attracts the attention of a gold digger. The situation gets even trickier when Gildersleeve’s girlfriend shows up unexpectedly. It’s a fun comedy, a treat for all lovers of screwball. Government Girl is a lame wartime comedy with Olivia de Havilland in the lead. The Falcon and the Co-eds is one of the Falcon series of movies, with Tom Conway as the Saint. It’s a solidly made thriller, with a decent cast, but formulaic enough not to fall into a higher category.

Around the World is a wartime propaganda musical, cute fluffy and upbeat. Fans of Kay Kysler should definitely watch it. Higher and Higher is the typical movie that can’t be considered high art, but is an enjoyable, light-hearted piece. Special plus is a very young Frank Sinatra in the lead. The Falcon Out West is another of the Falcon series, more of the same old same old. Seven Days Ashore is another fluffy musical. Show Business surely fits into the “Nothing major, but it’s a lot of fun” movie. The story of a vaudeville team (Eddie Cantor in the lead), their ups and downs, it’s interesting today if nothing than a memory lane piece about times long gone.

Marine Raiders is a WW2 movie, typical example of the genre and the time. War movies made during the war often used live footage of battles, and they all boiled down to “rally round the flag, boys”! The leads are played by two fine actors, Pat O’Brien and Robert Ryan. Of course, there is a love story, with the charming Ruth Hussey (I love intelligent, everyday, non-extremely-beautiful actresses like Ruth!) in the middle. Bride by Mistake is a mid tier romance movie – but an absolute highlight is the stunning Laraine Day in the lead. I love Laraine, she was such a gentle, beautiful actress! Unfortunately, Daun followed some decent movies with Youth Runs Wild, a movie about juvenile delinquency that fares like most movies about the topic – pretty badly. This ain’t no Rebel without a cause. Then came Heavenly Days, a Fibber and DaunKennedy3Molly McGee movie. Like most series, it’s a rec is you like that kind of humor – if not, stay away. Daun went back to musicals with, Girl Rush a standard Western gold rush comedy with all of the cliches and not enough good things to recommend it. Daun finally hit it big with Murder, My Sweet, a superb example of the mid 1940 film noir. Based on Raymond Chandler’s book, Dick Powell plays an excellent Phillip Marlowe. While Bogart may be the ultimate Marlowe, several other actors made a very good job of playing him, and Powell, IMHO; is a close second. He is just the right mix of soft and hard, of success and failure, of idealism and disillusionment to be Marlowe (whom I consider to be one of the best written fictional detective). Powell aside, the story is solid and with enough twists to keep anyone occupied, the supporting cast is wonderful and the atmosphere is spot on. Almost nothing to subtract from its brilliance. Next was Mademoiselle Fifi, a movie that has divided its critics. Based on a Guy De Maupassant short story and dealing with some very relevant issues (as back then as today), it’s hampered in a major way by the production code and censorship. Yes, this is the gaping wound of so many -could-have-been-wonderful movies from the decade. Yet, some praise it’s actors (Simone Simon!) and the story that ultimately inspired the western classic Stagecoach.

Daun-Kennedy-photo-by-Ernest-Bachrach-p412Duan was one of the much revered Salome Girls in the notorious camp classic, Salome Where She Danced. The long and arduous process of finding Salome girls was well documented in the press, and thanks to this movie, Daun got tons of publicity. It was this boost that got her a leading role! Yaay finally! On the flip side (there is always a flip side!) the movie is The Royal Mounted Rides Again and it’s a (guess!) … LOW BUDGET WESTERN. Oh yes, you know what I think of those… Anyway, it got her absolutely nowhere. She returned to the uncredited tier in This Love of Ours, a Merle Oberon tearjerker (too bad she appeared in such a large number of those she was a gifted comedienne!). It was followed by another Merle Oberon movie, Night in Paradise, a wacky and unusual movie for sure, but deeply flawed. A Scandal in Paris is a George Sanders vehicle, and the great man plays the same character he always plays – himself. This time his name is François Eugène Vidocq (famous french criminal) and the place is (duh!) Paris. But more of the same old, same old. Next she appeared in the Bowery boys movie, Bowery Bombshell, and then was the female lead in the forgotten DuanKennedy5serial, Son of the Guardsman. Too bad that this didn’t pan out – maybe Daun could have caught at least a bit of fame that way. Meanwhile, the serial was actually decent enough, with a solid story and decent production values – one wonders what went wrong?

Daun appeared in only two more movies, both featuring the characters Jiggs and Maggie (played by Joe Yule, Mickey Rooney’s pop, and British actress Reine Riano), Bringing Up Father and Jiggs and Maggie in Society. It was clear that Daun used all of her showbiz lives and it was time to retire. And retire she did.

PRIVATE LIFE

The Kennedy lass lives in a Hollywood apartment with another young actress, took music lessons, liked an occasional game of tennis, Bowled a great deal, and had never kept a budget, never had been in debt.  She admitted she was a bum cook. Daun was a very popular pin-up during the war, being named Miss Iceberg Warmer and Miss Optometrists. In 1946, contemporary publicity shamelessly pegged her as the descendant of Mary Queen of Scots.

DAUN KENNEDY_1361832226Duan was engaged to her first boyfriend, Fred L. McDowell, when she came to Hollywood in 1944. She engagement was terminated due to unknown reasons. In 1945, Daun first dated Rod Cameron, then almost married to agent John Lindsay.

In the end, she married her first fiancée, Fred L. McDowell. He was born on September 5, 1916, in Derby Line, Vermont. Somehow he ended up in the Boeing Aircraft corporation, and met Duan (the story is in the Early life section). He was in Hollywood from the early 1940s, but only in 1954 did he get his first credit as an editor.

Their daughter Linda Carol was born on October 28, 1955. Their second daughter, Tamara L., was born on November 17, 1959. Sadly, McDowell died on June 4, 1960, when their younger daughter was but a baby.

I have no idea what happened to Daun afterwards, or if she is indeed alive today. As always, I hope she had a good life.