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.
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.
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 there 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.
She 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.
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.
Maxine 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.
Now, 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.