Tut Mace

Tut Mace was a kind of girl that we only sometimes see in Hollywood – girls born to dance, who danced become they felt a passion for it, not for the money or fame. Pretty, talented and a seasoned pro by the time she was 20, Tut was a good match for Tinsel Town, but her career there was brief and not notable so she took up the dancing circuits and had much success. A stormy marriage and possible alcoholism sadly overshadowed her dancing abilities.

EARLY LIFE

Katharine May Tut Mace was born on January 26, 1913 in Los Angeles, California, to Lloyd Russell Mace and Katherine G. Higgins. She was their only child. Her father was a medical doctor, then a local practitioner – he later became an official physician of the Olympic auditorium (State Athletic Commission to be more precise).

From early childhood, it was obvious that Tut was extremely talented in kinetics, dancing included, so he parents, fully supportive, tried to do everything to help her develop this talent. She was sent to several leading dancing schools and took private lessons with a master who increased her acrobatic ability. She was also a Girl Scout troop leader.

Her first real showbiz experience was appearing in the local annual pastiche of dancers, dancing what was known then as a “different” acrobatic dance. Day by day she honed her skill and blossomed into a highly talented dancer. She made waves before she hit 18 – here is an example article about her early career days:

In the success scored by Lupino Lane’s new Hollywood Music Box revue, which opened to a capacity audience Tuesday night, the star-producer has not overlooked home talent. He points with pride to Tut Mace, the little dancer who registered the opening night. Little Miss Mace, is just 16 years of age, born in Los Angeles, and received all of her dance instruction here. She is the daughter of Dr. Lloyd Mace, official physician of the Olympic auditorium, and local practitioner. Although Miss Mace is so young, she has already been featured in several acts in vaudeville, and has danced in them as far East as Chicago. Her acrobatic talent is described as bringing exclamation of wonder from Music Box audiences.

Tut danced all over the US, including the prestigious Tabor Theater in Denver, where she joined the Fanchon and Marco “Hollywood Collegians” idea. And not long after, she did land in Hollywood. Pretty soon, she became very popular in Hollywood as a dancer, and was developing so rapidly that a movie contract was soon in the works, and here we go…

CAREER

Sadly, for such a talented dancer, tut appeared in so few movies – only three! Her first two movies were the Three Stooges shorts, Hollywood Lights andThe Big Idea. Since I never saw any of the Stooges shorts and known next to nothing about them nor their body of work, let’s just leave it at that.

Sadly, her only full length movie, She Was a Lady, is a completely forgotten one – little is known about it, but a sure plus is that is had Helen Twelvetrees in the lead. The plot is an outright critique of the social class divide, with Helen playing a daughter of an aristocrat and a servant lady. The plot follows her love life and striving to make something out of her mixed heritage. It actually doesn’t sound half as bad, but sadly I have no idea is anybody has watched this movie in ages.

And that was it from Tut!

PRIVATE LIFE

Tut’s private life was quite stormy and being with one very important man – Gary Leon. Leon was born on February 5, 1906, in Illinois. His family moved to Santa Monica, California when he was a boy. He was a dancer who danced with Rita Hayworth. Leon married Marion Mitchell, his dancing partner, in Detroit. The wedding was staged at the theater where they were appearing, a symphony orchestra playing Lohengrin’s Wedding March as the martial knot was tied before a large audience. And then, a year later, Tut comes into the picture. Wonder how? Here is an article about it:

Gary Leon, dancer, and former Santa Monica athlete, divorced his wife, Marion Leon, in Superior Judge Kincaid’s court yesterday because she was overly Jealous of him. “She insisted on being present in all my business dealings,” Leon testified. “She accused me of being in love with my dancing partners. Always she was out front watching me.” Asked by his attorney, Marshall Hickson, about threats of his wife to end her life, Leon replied it was just her “annual gag” to cause him further annoyance. Marcia (Tut) Mace, Leon’s dancing partner, testified that ,. Mrs. Leon’s jealousy caused Leon to be much upset and that it once resulted in their losing an engagement. The Leons were married December 14, 1933, and separated last April 1

This was not the first time Leon got some slack from the papers. He got some infamy when he was accused by none other than  Rudy Vallee of keeping rendezvous with his then wife, Fay Webb, in New York. Leon claimed he had known Fay since she was “a little girl with pigtails,” but that he said he had not seen her nor had  date with her.

In his defense, the Webb-Vallee marriage was one hot mess and even if Leon did see Fay, he was hardly the main problem causing all this drama. Leon later refused to take sides in commenting on the Vallee’s marriage, remarking he was just the innocent victim caught in a cross-fire of a domestic quarrel.

As for Marion’s accusation, as the papers noted, “He didn’t want to take sides, so he gave affidavits to both sides, and was not further concerned in the matter.”

Har har har, while he was trying to paint Marion as a green-eyed monster, Gary truly was cheating on her with Tut – quite a low punch, I have to say. Just a few short weeks after his divorce, Gary and Tut announced they will be married soon at Agua Caliente. Although California law prescribed a year’s wait before either party may remarry, Leon and Tut evaded the ruling by living apart.

In contrast to Leon’s first marriage, his second wedding to Tut was performed at the Foreign club, Tijuana’s largest gambling house. They left for soon on a combination honey moon and professional tour of Europe. Another thing they kept mum was that Tut was pregnant – their daughter Andree Antoinette was born sometimes in 1935, not long after the wedding.

Leon and Tut’s marriage was a tumultuous one. They danced all around the US and Europe, mostly in Great Britain. They often had stormy fights just to make up later and everything was seemingly lovely-dovely. Like with most such stories, the ending was not a nice one.

After a difficult marriage, they finally divorced in 1945. Even then it was a major fiasco – the court proceedings got into the papers, and they were not nice. It was said Tut listed her monthly expenses at $156.50, and asked a restraining order to prevent her husband molesting her. Soon, Tut found out she was pregnant again, and gave birth to their second daughter, Pamela Mary Leon, on July 5, 1946, during their divorce proceedings. But the divorce went on as usual – it seems there was nothing that could keep the two of them together.

Tut faded from the public view, gave up dancing and remarried to a Santa Monica businessman, Phillip Malouf.

In 1955, Tut and Gary went to the Santa Monica Superior Court to begin a legal battle over the custody of their 11-year-old daughter. The suit was heard by Judge Stanley Mosk. She was seeking custody of her daughter Pamela, who has been living with’ her father and her paternal grandmother since she and Gary were divorced years ago. Leon, then a chief of security at me Kami corp was likewise remarried by that time. Now this is truly sad: Tut’s husband Philip Malouf testified that he recently attempted the role of peacemaker between Leon and his former wife, where upon Leon went into a tirade and said he wished his former wife were dead and that he would have killed her if he thought he could get away with it. Leon had answered his ex- wife’s demand-for custody of the child and charged that she has been an alcoholic for the past seven years. Tut, in her affidavit, said she has hot had a drink for 18 months. Judge Mosk advised the parties that he will confer with the girl prior to resumption of the hearing this morning. Sadly that was all I could find of the case, and I have no idea what happened in the end with the custody case.

To sum everything up, it seems that Gary and Tut were at odds for a long time even after that, and I can only hope they reached some sort of agreement on the custody of their daughter. One wonders what could have happened to install so much venom into their hearts.

Tut lived a quiet life in Santa Monica with her husband, and danced only for fun. But unfortunately, it seems that she could have been an alcoholic. Because, she just died too young.

Catherine “Tut” Malouf died on July 26, 1966. I have no idea when Philip Malouf died. Gary Leon died on March 30, 1988.

3 responses

  1. Andree was not the child of Leon and Tut. An affair with Francis Burge produced Andree. It was claimed that Gary adopted her, but there are no papers to be found. Pamela remained with her father, through marriage and children, until her father passed away. I am the daughter of Andree, niece of Pamela – both of whom are still living.

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