Perdita Chandler

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A stunning Elizabeth-Taylor-look-alike, Perdita Chandler acted only for fun – thus, she never expected anything big and never got anything big from Hollywood. However, despite the thin number of movies she appeared in, their quality is quite impressive – isn’t it enough to say that she appeared in same movies as Greer Garson, Spencer Tracy and John Wayne?

EARLY LIFE

Perdita Chandler was born in 1928 in Los Angeles, California. She was the daughter of a local physician. The family lives in Santa Monica for a time.

The family moved to Salt Lake City in the late 1930s. When Perdita was 13 years old, she fell from a roof. The doctors gave her parents a grim prognosis – Perdita will never walk again. However, the determined child gritted her teeth and refused to give up – she worked every day, and she was back on her feet (wobbly a bit but a step forward) in a couple of months. In order to strengthen her back, she started taking dancing lessons.

Soon, Perdita was a serious dancer, enjoying it very much and hoping to make a career out of it. Not long after she started to sing, and joined the Mormon Tarbenacle Choir. She sang there for four years – encouraged by her success, she left for New York int he mid 1940s. Her father, however, did not wish for her daughter to be in showbiz – but it did not deter Perdita!

Beautiful, tall and well-built, she became a Powers model in no time. She also sang in nightclubs and made an appearance on Broadway in The Firebrand of Florence, a Kurt Weill musical. In 1949, she left New York for Hollywood, and there our story starts!

CAREER

Perdita made her debut in The Great Jewel Robber, a David Brian veclicle. What can I say, Brian is a new favorite of time, after seeing him in The Damned Don’t Cry. he wasn’t PerditaChandlerOlivier, but he had a menacing vibe and was largely magnetic on-screen. it’s an interesting film at any rate – Brian plays the titular jewel robber, who uses anyone and anything to live off his trade. It’s just what he is, and he will never be anything else. this grim, serious outlook on a man is something we don’t see too much in saintly Hollywood. he won’t change – he doesn’t want to. he’ll use any woman he meets to achieve his cause (the women are played by Perdita, Marjorie Reynolds and Jacqueline DeWit). Wonderful start for Perdita, despite the B movie status, but did she match it up?

Unfortunately, she would never again play a credited role. But she did appear uncredited in some pretty good movies! First in the list – The Glass Menagerie, an overall successful adaptation of the Tennessee Williams classic. Mister 880, her next movie, is a well made Burt Lancaster thriller about a Secret Service Agent trying to catch a cold case counterfeiter and a United Nations translator. Since Burt made tons of good movies, it gets drowned out and is barely remembered today. This is the only time Burt played opposite the enchanting Dorothy McGuire.

The People Against O’Hara is essentially a character study about an alcoholic lawyer who tires to redeem himself by defending a youth from the wrong side on the tracks during a murder trial. Luckily, the lawyer is played by Spencer Tracy – few actors could pull of the role with such a mixture of ease and heaviness. It’s not an edge of your seat, thrilling movie, but it works on most levels.

Phone Call from a Stranger  is a small, non-bombastic movie, but very well-acted, directed and scripted film, with a surprisingly good ending. It deals, directly, with loss – how people cope when they suddenly lose somebody. The leads are played by Gary Merrill, Shelley Winters and Michaell Rennie, all fine enough thespians.

The Merry Widow is a lukewarm adaptations of the famous operetta, which was filmed before (in 1932) with a (IMHO) better cast – Maurice Chavalier and Jeannette MacDonald. The 1932 movie is generally a better one than this one (by miles). Lana Turner, who plays the widow of the title, is as lackluster as always. What can I say about her? No great actress, but she did have the star quality and managed to pull off more good movies than many more talented actresses. The male lead was taken over by Fernando Lamas – since I’m not a fan of the Latin lover types, I’ll just say skip.

Perdita’s lats movie under contract was Scandal at Scourie, a later Greer Garson movie. By 1952, Greer was not the major star she was in the early to mid 1940s – her movies were never as good as they were back then. However, she was always extremely watchable and could lively up even mundane material. Here she is again paired with Walter Pidgeon, in a touching story about.

Perdita made only one more movie, in 1957, John Wayne’s Jet Pilot. After that she completely dissipated from the Hollywood scene.

PRIVATE LIFE

In early 1950, not long after she came to Hollywood, Perdita was seen with Ronald Reagan. It didn’t last long, unfortunately. Fortunately, another man came into his place.

The_Jacksonville_Daily_Journal_Fri__Dec_18__1953_His name was Felix Ferry, known as Fefe or Fifi Ferry, a famous movie agent. Ferry sure had a colorful life. Born in 1897 in Romania, he moved to Monaco and helped make Monte Carlo the hubbub of European jet set. He came to the States and opened and former owned of a top-notch New York restaurant, Monte Carlo. Ferry had connection with some shady characters, including mobster Frank Costello. He was also engaged for a time to dancer Hilda Knight. Ann Woodward, who famously killed her wealthy husband William Woodward, was a dancer at one of Fefe’s nightclubs before her marriage.

Fefe was a slight man, under 5’5”, but with a magnetic presence and great charisma. As Fefe’s fiancee, Perdita mingled with the higher-ups of Hollywood (she was often likened to Elizabeth Taylor, whom she knew personally), and was a good friend of famous astrologer Carroll Righter.

In June 1953, Perdita went to Europe for the first time. She was to be married to Ferry in Germany. The couple traveled around a great deal before the nuptials were to take place. However, during one such trip, Fefe died from a sudden heart attack. The wedding was only three days away. Perdita, who was expecting to get married to a wealthy man, brought only a small sum of money with her. Fefe was dead, she was not his legal successor – she had no right to any of his inheritance. She didn’t have enough even to return back to the States. Fiercely independent and unwilling to fall onto the kindness of strangers, she hitch hiked to Paris, talked to some of Fefe’s friends, and got herself a spot as the chanteuse in the posh nightclub, the Elephant Blanc. Her show was a smash – soon she was overrun with offers for other engagements. She appeared for a time in Carroll’s, another fashionable nights spot, and toured a great deal (most notably to Egypt).

When an US newspaperman interviewed her in 1954, almost a year later, Perdita expressed her deep sorrow over Fefe’s death, but also a certain satisfaction over her present situation. She had no plans to return to the US any time soon, and she obviously enjoyed the “French living”.

In early 1955, Perdita became an ambassador for French wine. She gushed to the papers how wonderful French wine was, much better than sodas or coffee back in the States. In September of that year, Perdita was seriously injured in a car crash near Milan. She managed to recuperate and after such a life or death situation, came to the conclusion that it was time to return to the States in 1956, to continue her movie career.

What happened afterwards is a mystery to me. She returned to Europe and didn’t make another movie. Perdita got married to a French man, a Mr. Dalbavie, after 1958. Her son, Marc-André Dalbavie, was born on February 10, 1961. He became a famous composer.

I have no idea where Perdita is today, but I hope she had a good life!

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Maxine Reiner

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Maxine Reiner was a gorgeous model who came to Hollywood with the sole intention of making it as an actress. Her looks warranted her a contract, but we all know that’s only a starting point for something more substantial. After some uncredited bits, she was given a prominent role in a movie series and it was either make or break – sadly, she did not make the grade and her career ended not long after.

EARLY LIFE

Maxine Frances Reiner was born on March 16, 1916, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, to Bernard Reiner and Ida Eisenberg. Her younger sister Naomi was born in 1923. Maxine grew up in Philadelphia and attended schools there.

During her high school years, to make some money, Maxine worked as a model in Philadelphia. She was best known for the cigarette ads (despite the fact that she never smoked). Upon graduation, her father gifted her with a train ticket to Los Angeles. Piqued by the light of Hollywood, she left for the West coast with her mother and sister. She did the usual studio rounds, but no luck. Then, one day, an agent was reviewing a screen test trying to decide will he sign an actress of not. Maxine was in the same screen test – the agent finally decided to sign Maxine and not the girl he was originally . She got a contract with Universal Studios and started her career.

CAREER

Maxine was uncredited in her first feature, Wanderer of the Wasteland, a forgotten movie based on a Zane Grey novel. The cast is good enough for sure (Dean Jagger and Gail Patrick in the leads), but MaxineReiner5there is nothing further I can say about the movie. She had another uncredited role in Professional Soldier, a fun and delightful romp, a perfect Sunday afternoon movie. The plot is simple enough – Former real-life mercenary Victor McLaglen plays a professional soldier who is hired to kidnap the Russian king, Peter II, but he gets much more than he bargained for in Freddie Bartholomew (who play Peter). it’s not about the plot for sure – it’s about the great interplay between McLagen and Bartholomew, the fast and elegant action scenes, and witty dialogue. Rita Hayworth and Maxine play gypsy dancers.

She continued her uncredited adventure with It Had to Happen, one of the less known George Raft movies. He plays an Italian immigrant who makes it big in America. Same old, same old story. Rosalind Russell plays the female lead. Nothing to yawn about.

Maxine struck cinematic gold that catapulted her out of the uncredited pool with Charlie Chan at the Circus. Was it the best way to become a star? Heck no, but it was a god start. What can I say about Charlie Chan movies?  Like most movie serials, they were made on a shoestring budget and with mediocre writing, and this particular entry is a mid tier one. Some love it, some find it uninteresting, but it’s enjoyable any way you look at it. Charlie Chan is, as the title suggests, in the circus and gets embroiled in the complex behind the scenes hierarchy. Maxine plays a trapeze artist. What was supposed to be her ticket to stardom only buried her further. Maxine did no make the grade, and her roles suffered.

MaxineReiner3She had a smaller role in Sins of Man, a long-winded, heavy drama with Don Ameche playing dual roles of two brothers. It’s more or less completely forgotten today.

Maxine had a slightly more prominent role in The Girl on the Front Page, a Gloria Stuart vehicle where she plays a rich girl who starts to work at her dad’s paper incognito and managed to bust a counterfeit ring. While I love a heroine who is proactive and does things, the rich girl going to work narrative is a bit boring, I have to admit. Yet Gloria is such a lovely presence, you can forgive some plot holes.

Maxine’s last movie was Flying Hostess, a movie about the lives and loves of airline stewardesses (they were called flying hostesses back in the 1930s). It’s a pretty minor, forgotten movie. Aware that her career was going nowhere, Maxine gave up her contract to become a wife and later, mother.

PRIVATE LIFE

Maxine was a budding novelist, and wrote the novel Stranger in Manhattan in 1935. It deals with the sophisticated life in New York. I have no idea if it was ever published, but it’s never bad to write, so kudos to Maxine.

MaxineReiner4Maxine married Joseph “Joe” I. Myerson on July 11, 1935, in an orthodox ceremony in Los Angeles. The studio gave her two weeks to go on a honeymoon. Joe was born on December 6, 1905, to Victor Myerson and Ida Hoffman, the fifth of six children. He grew up in California but moved to Yuma, Arizona in the late 1920s. He returned to Los Angeles in the mid 1930s and worked as a wholesale clothing merchant.

The marriage ended in a separation on October 18. They finally hit the divorce courts in February 1936, where she asked for separate maintenance and he claimed that it’s stupid to pay her alimony since she earned more than him. Finally, she was awarded $185 a month alimony.

Myerson remarried to Jean Morantz on June 20, 1937. He died on December 1986, in Pima, Arizona.

Maxine married Harry Eliot Sokolov on April 29, 1937. The couple waited for two months to reveal their marriage to the press. Harry was born on December 23, 1899 in Baltimore, Maryland to Jacob Sokolov and Anita Azrael, second of seven children. He graduated from Central High School in Washington DC. In 1921, while studying law, he helped organize an eight piece orchestra that was to stage a George Washington musical. In 1925, he and his brother opened a Realty Corporation in Brooklyn. He became a practicing attorney and moved to Los Angeles after 1930. He and Maxine lived in Beverly Hills.

Maxine2Now, something more about her husband. In 1939, he, along with several other luminaries, founded the Producers Corporation of America.  Harry Sokolov was a very active and energetic man who served as an attorney to several stars (Patsy Ruth Miller comes to mind), was the CEO to Harry Sokolov and Sons, a construction company, and later became an executive producer at 20th Century Fox and close associate of Richard Zanuck. He also was a member of the advisory board of the California State Park Foundation and a member of the California Superior Court Arbitrators.

On January 22, 1943, the Sokolov’s only child, son Thomas Reiner Sokolov, was born. Maxine’s sister Naomi lived with them until her own marriage the same year. Maxine was active in the local social life and dedicated a lot of her time to charitable causes.

The couple divorced at some point before 1956. Sokolov died in 1977.

Maxine married Frank Maury Grossman on August 5, 1956. He was born in January 21, 1915 in Canada, to Harry Gorssman and Florence Claman. They divorced afterwards. Grossman died on June 16, 1988.

Maxine Frances Reiner died on June 19, 2003, in Los Angeles, California.

Eileen O’Hearn

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Lovely Eileen O’Hearn was a sure bet for stardom at Columbia Studios in the early 1940s, along with Jinx Falkenburg, Patti McCarthy and Kay Harris. Need I say more about what happened to them? None of the girls achieved even a modicum of success in movies. Only Jinx Falkenburg became famous, but only later and in a different venue. I have profiled both Patti and Kay, and I can easily say I have no idea why such beautiful girls failed in Hollywood. Let’s try and see what happened to Eileen.

EARLY LIFE

Mary Eileen O’Hearn was born on November 8, 1913, in Kansas City, Missouri, to Michael J. O’Hearn and Teresa O’Hearn. Her father was born in Ireland and immigrated to the US in the early 1900s, and settled in Kansas City where he married Eileen’s mother (who was 18 years younger than him and a native of Missouri). Michael worked as a local contractor, and the family lived in their own home by 1920.

Eileen grew up in Kansas City, attended schools there and started singing from an early age. At some point she was taking serious singing lessons and turned into a talented lyrical soprano. She gave several open air concerts and even did some radio shows in Kansas City.

The O’Hearns moved to Santa Monica in 1937. She entered the University of California at Los Angeles and enrolled in the drama class.

While studying, she was doing some acting work on the side. She had played the ingenue lead in U.C.L.A.’s presentation of “Of Thee I Sing,” and had acted in the Westwood Community Theater and Pasadena Community Playhouse. It was during the run of “Cradle Song” that a scout saw her and offered her a test by Columbia Pictures Corp. She passed it with flying colors but nothing happened. Disenchanted, Eileen put her acting dreams on hold for a moment, quit college and started working as a stenographer at The Times in Los Angeles. Some time passed, and Columbia finally summoned her to sign a contract. And her movie career was on!

CAREER

Eileen appeared in my favorite genre (IRONY), low-budget western, for a start. Thunder Over the Prairie was her first movie, and her first lead role (now that is a great leap for any actress. Even if it’s a low-budget western. Can’t believe I am saying this). The studio took  a gamble with Eileen, since she officially was not a trained actress nor did she have prior movie acting experience. She was partially seasoned in live theater, but was far from an acting pro, any way you look at it.

EileenOhearn3Her second lead was in the weak comedy, The Richest Man in Town, with low-budget comedians Frank Carver and Roger Pryor. She was lauded as a true discovery in the press, but she movie generated little interest and failed at the

Unfortunately, Eileen did not live up to the studio’s expectations, and instead of going up, she went down. She was to be uncredited or play supporting roles until the end of her career. She appeared in Honolulu Lu, a charming but thin as air Lupe Velez musical, The Man Who Returned to Life, actually a more than decent thrilled with John Howard in the lead, but sadly completely forgotten today and not a hit back when it was released either.

The Adventures of Martin Eden was the most prestigious movie for Eileen, a semi successful adaptation of the Jack London classic. Like most literary adaptations, fans either love or hate it – some praise Glenn Ford, some find him a failure. Some find the ending fitting for the time and place it was made, some things it’s a disgrace for London. It’s usually best to leave it up to personal preferences in this case – the movie isn’t a bad one (all in all), the script is good, the actors are far from untalented, and rest is up to you.

Next Eileen appeared in the delightful Two Yanks in Trinidad. I love it when Hollywood takes two character actors and gives them a movie where they can show their often considerable talents. Let’s be real, character actor were often more talented than leading ladies and men – and both Pat O’Brien and Brian Donlevy are sterling examples of this. The plot even fades in comparison to the interplay between those two. Anyway, it’s fun fun fun. Eileen was then shuffled into two serials: Alias Boston Blackie and Blondie’s Blessed Event. What can I say about both of these serials? if you love the first movie, you’ll love the rest, if not, just skip.

EileenOhearn4After How Spry I Am, a comedy short, Eileen finally got her billing, but again in a low budget western – The Devil’s Trail. The less I say about the movie, the better. Next Eileen landed in one of th ebets movies of her career – Not a Ladies’ Man. The title is wildly misleading – the protagonist is, believe it or not, a 8-year-old boy who developed a passionate case of female dislike after his mother left him. Hollywood rarely tackled with such sensitive, real life problems, and I applaud the studio for trying, at least on a light weight level, to deal with this. Problems start when his father falls for his teacher. The cast is good – Paul Kelly (interesting man, read more about him) and Fay Wray, and the youngster is played by Douglas Croft.

Eileen was again uncredited in Meet the Stewarts, another lightweight family drama. However, a wonderful cast brightens this one up – William Holden and Frances Dee are the couple in question. And the plot, dealing with everyday life of a pair of newlyweds, is sure something not seen in movies frequently. Charming and simple, it’s a perfect movie to watch on a Sunday afternoon.

Eileen’s last two movies were war movies: Submarine Raider and Parachute Nurse. She gave it all up for family in late 1942.

PRIVATE LIFE

Eileen gave an interview in 1941, where she claimed that she refuses to appear with a drink and cigarette in her hand on-screen since off-screen since she neither drinks nor smokes in real life. “You can be an actress without sacrificing your ideals” – was her quote. Columnist Wood Soanes was quick to reprimand her – in a very condescending article, he tried to illustrate how actors are not the characters they play on-screen. I have to say I agree with Woods here, as Eileen does comes of as a self-righteous puritan, not an actress who strives to embody a role to the best of her ability. The irony is that Eileen was right, that you can be an actress without sacrificing your ideals, but appearing on-screen without a cigarette in your mouth is not quite the way to do it.

EileenOhearn2Eileen’s other outrages claim was that her ancestor was a Irish princess, Briget O’Hara, who ran a fleet of pirate ships of the coast of Ireland. This, however, was a standard publicity stunt of the time and thus nothing out of the ordinary.

At least Eileen was true to her views. She never made any headlines and seemed to have a sedate love life. She married Frederick Pate on March 7, 1942, in Yuma, Arizona. Pate was born on June 17, 1913. He was a technician at Columbia Pictures (officially, they both Eileen and Frederick belonged to the same studio, they just didn’t work on the same positions! He was a manual worker and Eileen was a movie star! How cute, a story almost out of the movies.)

Their daughter, Susan Eileen, was born on January 2, 1943, in Hollywood. Eileen decided to retire in 1944 and devote her time to her small family.

The Pates lived in California for the first few years of Susan’s life before moving to Normandy Park, Washington. In 1947 her son and last child, William, was born. Susan and William later attended school in nearby Des Moines, Washington.

The Pates were avid boaters and many family vacations were spent cruising Puget Sound and the San Juan Islands. They also raised chinchillas for a period of time.

Frederick Pate died on September 1969 after a happy marriage. Eileen moved to Alaska to be with her daughter Susan. She never remarried and enjoyed a close relationship with her children.

Eileen O’Hearn Pate died on September 22, 1993 in Kodiak, Alaska.