Mary Casiday

Mary Casiday came to Hollywood as a pretty model, managed to nab a studio contract and stayed. She never did any serious dramatic work, but like most girls who had such careers, her whole life was shaped by Los Angeles, a town she would have probably never visited if not for Hollywood. Let’s hear more about her!

EARLY LIFE

Mary Alice Irene Casiday was born in 1917 to Samuel Carlyle Casiday and Daisy Elizabeth Harrower in Des Moines, Iowa. Her father was a plumber. Her older brother was Carlyle Leure, born in 1916, and her younger sister was Daisy Elizabeth, born in 1919. The family moved to Omaha, Nebraska at some point and Mary grew up there. After she graduated from high school (St. Mary’s Convent), she found work as a model in Omaha.

Mary was a model for a short time when she decided to try the movies. Her story is actually a very inspiring one – in a town where many girls pine for months (and sometimes for years) for their chance to appear in movies , May had it very easy – she applied for a job on a Friday and got her first call the following Monday. As a complete newcomer, she knew so little about Hollywood that she went to the wrong studio on the first day of work. Luckily, she managed to find the correct studio and her career was of!

CAREER

This is pretty slim, as Mary appeared in only two movies – Dames and Westward the Women

What to say about Dames? A typical Busby Berkeley musical, that is the same as most of his other work – no plot, lots of dancing, singing and scantly clothed chorus girls. And guess who Mary was? A chorus girl, of course! While I myself am not a fan of such movie,s it’s still very, very impressive to see the perfectly choreographed scenes and one can’t help but admire Busby’s impeccable sense for elegant but abundant (is there a word that can truly nail it down?) motion. While not his best, this one stand the test of time and it’s more than watchable today.

Westward the Women is a different story. While this is no work of art comparable to the bets movie ever made, it’s still a great movie from William Wellman, one of the undisputed masters of the 20th century. The movie is about a trail guide escorts a group of women from Chicago to California to marry men that have recently began settling there. And boy, is it one of the very few movies realistically depicting pioneer life! Like it usually does Hollywood glamorized the hard knock, very difficult pioneer life, but not so much here, as she movie tackled it head on and hides nothing. As a result, it’s not easy to watch it, but it’s incredibly interesting and even inspiring to see people who beat terrible odds to keep living on a normal life in such surroundings. The cast is also pretty good – from Robert Taylor, already past his pretty boy stage, to a whole arena of female actresses (Denise Darcel, Julie Bishop, Marilyn Erskine, Hope Emerson and so on), Wellman makes it work as smoothly as clockwork, and it’s a testament to his prowess as a director.

Unfortunately, that was it from Mary as far as IMDB claims. Her obituary tells a different story – allegedly she worked for Warner Bros and later William Randolph Hearst Production Co.  all the way until the mid 1950s. That means she could have been in other movies or TV shows under different names, or IMDB just doesn’t have all the information, but now I guess we’ll never know unless somebody goes some through information digging. The obituary also states that she appeared in several Busby Berkeley movies with their lavish production numbers, and was selected Miss Golden Girl in the Berkeley troupe. But let’s leave it at that!

PRIVATE LIFE

In 1939, Mary started dating Clifford Welch (whoever he was!). In typical Hollywood style, whenever Welch was not in town, she had other swains. Once they were Anthony Averill and Dick Purcell who were her “gay caballeros” (as the columnists called them) while Cliff was back in the East. They squirmed her at Grace Hayes’ Lodge.

However, Cliff was Mary’s one true hearty toddy. That same year, Clifford Welch flew in from New York just to help Mary celebrate her birthday. It seemed that they were a serious couple for a time, but it seems they broke up the next year.

Mary made a personal appearance at the San Francisco Fair last week-end for Princess Do Ling, former lady in waiting to the late Empress Dowager of China. A barbecued chicken dinner following a long horseback trek was enjoyed by the clever hostess (Mary).

In 1940, after she and Cliff called it quits, she nabbed Dick Purcell, her old swain, from her love rival Vicki Lester. Hollywood sure was a small place back then, and people dated extensively.

Here is a short, fun story about Mary’s chorus days in Hollywood:

Chorines just now are rehearsing from noon until 6 p. m.. and performing; from 8:30 until 1 or 2 o’clock in the morning. Yesterday evening, about 8 o’clock, Carroll’s chief aide-de-camp, Herman Hover was descending a flight of backstage stairs. Suddenly a bell began to jangle under his feet and with a horror-stricken shout of “TIME BOMB LOOK OUT:” Mr. Hover took the rest of the steps at a single bound. And from under the stairs where they had made a bed of blankets and pillows emerged Mary Casiday and Patti Sacks. Too tired to go home, they had set an alarm to insure waking up in time for the show

In 1940, there were news that Mary would undergo an appendectomy as soon as her strength is built sufficiently for the ordeal. It seems Mary was generally a fragile little thing and was not in the best of health for periods of time. The operation didn’t go as planned and Mary was allegedly hovering between life and death for some time afterwards. Time went by and she was no better and her friends were greatly worried. Luckily, after a dark time, she recuperated and resumes her Hollywood career.

It seems Mary was involved with handsome actor Lyle Talbot for a time – she gave him a big farewell party when he was scheduled to leave for Philadelphia to play in “Thanks for My Wife”. Unfortunately, the relationship ended soon afterwards. However, Mar’y love life continued unhindered. In 1941, she was getting a terrific rush from Edmund McDonald, in the construction business in San Francisco. Soon, there were stories all around how Edmund asked her to marry him and wedding bells would sound soon for the duo. And then nothing happened. I mean literary, no information about why they broke up or anything.

In May 1942, Mary was back in the hospital for another operation, but this time it all went well, and she got ready for the big event of the year – her wedding. In December 1942, Mary married Cecil Joseph Bye. Here is a newspaper clip about the marriage:

BYE-CASIDAY The wedding date of Dec. 30 for Miss Mary Casiday and Cecil Joseph Bye was announced at the surprise bridal shower given for the bride-elect by Mrs. Frederick Maxwell Karger in her Hollywood home. The marriage will be solemnized at the Sacred Heart of Mary. Miss Casiday is a graduate of St. Mary’s Convent, Omaha, and vice-president of the Army Camps Kmergency Service. Mr. Bye Is attending officers’ candidate school, Camp Davis, North Carolina, and is a graduate of the University of Cincinnati.

Cecil Joseph Bye was born on December 10, 1907, the son of William Harry Bye and Adiliade Peiling. He was a successful Los Angeles businessman when he married Mary. Little is known about the Bye’s married life, except that they were California-based and Mary retired after the marriage.
Bye died on May 3, 1986 in Los Angeles. Mary never remarried and continued living in the city.

Mary Casiday Bye died on November 3, 1998 in Los Angeles.

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Betty McIvor

Betty McIvor was a beautiful debutante who wanted to act and was given the chance to do so – but unfortunately she left no impression on the world of films. As most of her peers, she retired after a few roles, got married and slipped into the upper class lifestyle.

EARLY LIFE

Betty Jane McIvor was born on June 8, 1919, in Sweet Grass, Montana to Allan Vivian McIvor and Mabel Pudget. Her father was a vice president of a local bank. Both of her parents were members of the upper class, and Betty grew up in a wealthy household that had several servants.

In 1930, they family moved to  Cheyenne, Laramie, Wyoming for Allan’s work, and Betty spent most of her teen years in Wyoming, adapting to the local Midwestern lifestyle. After graduating from high school (a private one, no doubt), she left to study at Stanford University.

Yet, her ties with Wyoming remained. In 1940, she was selected as Miss Cheyenne Frontier Days to rule over the famous outdoor rodeo at Cheyenne. She was described as “a typical girl of the west, 21, a daughter of a prominent western family and a student at Stanford university”. On Stanford university, she was noticed by a scout and given a chance to join the movie world.

CAREER

Betty made her debut in Dames, a typical Busby Berkeley musical with a very, very thin plot but plenty of music, dancing and pretty girls. As per usual, we have Joan Blondell, Dick Powell and Ruby Keeler in various capacities. She continued in the same vein with Gold Diggers of 1935, perhaps the best Berkeley musical made in the 1930s. Much as Dames, it has no plot but it well stuffed in other areas – namely, as we mentioned, dance music and girls, girls girls! Even the cast is half the same, but just everything is better (it’s hard to explain what exactly makes this the best Berkeley movie, but it is one of the best, hands down! Just watch it and enjoy).

We get more of the same in In Caliente, another Berkeley musical. This time, we have a slightly different cast – instead of old stalwarts like Powell and Keeler, we have Pat O’Brien and Dolores del Rio. Without any doubt, del Rio was one of the most stunning women that ever came to Hollywood, and O’Brien was a character actor that could carry leading roles with ease, so a plus to the casting department IMHO! As always, the story makes little sense, but you ain’t watching it for this, right?

Betty changed tracks with The Case of the Lucky Legs, not a Berkeley musical but a Perry Mason mystery – and boy, was Warren William a different Mason that Raymond Burr, whom we all know as the idealistic attorney. William is a more human and less “perfect” Perry – he is more than a bit cheeky and unusually flippant, but I have to say I like this incarnation a great deal. The story is vintage Mason, and Della Street is played by the highly fashionable Genevive Tobin. What can we say, it’s a solid movie, too bad the popular 1960s series overshadows all the previous versions.

Betty was again a gold digger in Gold Diggers of 1937, a pale semi remake of the 1935 movie. What can I say, like most remakes it simply fails. Hollywood, stop making remakes – obviously this doesn’t work. Interestingly, the formula is the same (no plot, plenty of fun), but the movies vary in quality and it’s hard to exactly pinpoint what is the edge that makes a movie great or mediocre.

Betty finished her career with Thin Ice, a Sonja Henie movie. What can I say, I don’t like Henie and never rated her movies highly. She knew how to skate for sure, but was neither a warm, endearing star (more important for musicals than the ability to do Shakespeare) nor was she a good thespian (in fact, . And her movies are dismal in terms of plot and character development (huh, what did I expect from a glorified skating musical after all?).

This was it from Betty!

PRIVATE LIFE

In 1940, when Betty was already 20 years old and getting ready to get married, her parents, already about 50 years old each, adopted a baby girl, Patricia Lou Brown.

Betty married her first husband, Franklin Judd Downing on December 27, 1940. Here is a short article about the marriage:

BETTY McIVOR TO BE BRIDE Miss Betty Mclvor, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Allan V. Mclvor of Hollywood, and Judd Downing, son of Mrs. Maude Downing, arc to be married tomorrow in the Chapman Park Pueblo Oratorio. A reception will be held in the Green Room of the Chapman Park. The couple plan to spend their honeymoon in Arizona. The bride-elect attended the University of Colorado and Stanford and is a member of Kappa Kappa Gamma. Mr. Downing is a graduate of the University of Miami

Judd was born on August 1, 1912 in Lima, Ohio, to Frank and Maud Dowling. After studying in Dade, Florida (where he lived with his mother) he became a successful practicing attorney in California and was featured in the social columns in the papers from time to time. He was married and divorced prior to 1935, but I could not find a name of his spouse.

Their daughter Judith Allan was born on January 26, 1945. Unfortunately, by this time the Dowling’s marriage was disintegrating and they divorced in 1946.

Betty married for the second time, to Lorrin Tarlton, on December 6, 1947. Lorrin Cooke Tarlton was born on July 10, 1911, in Watertown, Massachusetts, to Edna Stone Cooke and Frank Dale Calrton both members of prominent families. His mother was the daughter of formerConnecticut governor, Lorrin Cooke. Tarlton was married once before, on July 7, 1934, to Olive Wheelock. They had a son together, Lorrin Cooke Tarlton, born on February 16, 1936. Lorrin and Olive divorced in the early 1940s (I can assume).

Lorrin and Betty lived an active life in California, and were regulars at the social columns in the area. Lorrin adopted Betty’s daughter Judith but it seems they did not have any more children. Like her mother, Judith attended Stanford University.

Lorrin’s son Lorrin Jr. became a successful businessman and in
the 1980s developed Menlo Business Park, taking advantage of the then novel Dumbarton Bridge.

Betty’s former husband Judd Dowling died in January 1973.

Betty’s husband, Lorrin Cooke Tarlton, died on March 18, 1981, in Los Angeles.

Betty McIvor Tarlton died at the ripe of age of 95 in 2014 in California.