Rosalee Calvert was a perfect California mannequin int he 1950s and 1960s, tall, lean and aristocratic looking – like man yo fher peers, she tried for a movie career. She was more successful than most, but still not enough to fully devote herself to acting. She remained a high sought after model for decades and seemed to have lived a happy life in California. Let’s learn more about her!
Rosalie Coughenour was born in December 13, 1926 in Dearborn, Michigan, to Lowell and Rosa Coughenor. She was the youngest of three children – her older siblings were William, born in 1921, and Mary, born in 1925. The family moved to Los Angeles in 1937.
I could not find any information on Rosalee’s education, nor her childhood – what I know is that she was modeling by mid 1940s, and by 1948 she was featured as a new, promising model in the papers. It was only natural that Hollywood snagged her before long, and in 1949, she made her movie debut.
Rosalee started her career in Little Women, the all time favorite classic, a decent adaptation of the beloved Louisa May Alcott novel. No Katherine Hepburn here, who needs her when you have June Allyson (insert irony here!)! Anyway, a good enough start for sure.
Next, Rosalee played a model in the so-so drama thriller, East Side, West Side. While the movie has a really good cast (James Mason, Barbara Stanwyck, Ava Gardner) and some , it’s overall a lackluster film – not nearly interesting enough, and too transparent to be truly thrilling. After a brief hiatus of a year, she appeared in The Lemon Drop Kid, a Bob Hope Christmas classic.
Then came an uncredited role in Here Comes the Groom, a typical Bing Crosby vehicle – lots of singing, thin plot and a pretty co-star (this time Jane Wyman). Roselee than appeared in a two more musicals that, while not top-tier classic, have a nostalgic, good sheen today – Two Tickets to Broadway and Lovely to Look At.
The last movie Rosalee made before a several year hiatus was the Mickey Rooney movie Sound Off . Sadly, Rooney was way past his prime here (and only 32 years old), and it shows. His character, a brash entertainer who gets drafted, is an unlikable egomaniac, and the public just never connects to him. For a musical, this is a major, major minus.
When Rosalee returned to moviemaking until 1959, when, as a total anthesis to happy-go-lucky musicals, she appeared in a lurid, even untasteful, shocking drama, the semi trashy The Louisiana Hussy While the story isn’t the worst ever and the production actually had more than 5 bucks for props, the acting is absolutely appealing! The only reason o watch the movie is to enjoy all the “badness”.
Roselee was off the screen until 1962, when she appeared in another wholesome, cute movie – If a Man Answers, a Sandra Dee/Bobby Darrin pairing. While I like Sandra Dee – she was a doll – and her movies often carry a sarcastic bite, it’s too naive most of the time.
In 1966, Rosalee appeared in Made in Paris – I have a true fondness for this movie, despite it being a total guilty pleasure. It has a ridiculous, over the top story and seriously pedestrian direction, but the actors and the character make it an enjoyable experience plus, I love movies with great fashion, and this one is a full clock of stunning gowns! And Ann Margret, with her kitten with a whip sexuality, so outdated today,y is incredibly charming! And Louis Jourdan, swoon, too bad he always played the same character, but he’s parfait in the tole!
Rosalee made her last movie appearance that year, in The Oscar, a camp deluxe 1960s film, in league with Valley of the Dolls. However, I have a soft spot for Stephen Boyd, who played the lead, and thus give it a carte blanche although it’s a worse movie than the mentioned Dolls.
That’s it from Rosalee!
Rosalee gave a beauty hint to the readers:
Eyes will look larger and more wide awake with a white or light beige eye shadow.
Little is known about Rosalee’s early Hollywood life. She was an active Hollywood model from 1948 onward, but was low profile in the romantic department. In October 1951 Rosalee married Peter Coe in Ensenada, Mexico.
Peter Coe was born Petar Knego in Dubrovnik, then Austo Hungary (that fell apart literary the day he was born), today Croatia (making him by fellow countryman!). Trained at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts in England and came to the US, starting his Hollywood career in 1943. He played ethnic roles in a string of movies.
The couple had three sons: Armand Brian, born on June 9, 1952 in Los Angeles, Vincent L., born on May 7, 1957, and Peter C., born on September 7, 1960. The couple owned a ranch and lived the quiet family life when Peter and Rosalee were not working.
Rosalee’s acting career was finished by 1960s, but her modeling career lasted much longer and was more successful. Rosalee was tight with designed Jimmy Galanos:
West Coast designer Jimmy Galanos, whose small beginnings I remember, brought at least 150 new designs to town for his show at the Ambassador. Prolific Jimmy also fathered 50 hats and produced 40 pairs of special shoes by David Evins for his clothes. Before a packed ballroom, he paraded new versions of the jeweled, Persian-printed evening chiffon so many smart women are wearing this winter. His lates have jeweled. Paisley tops and white organdie skirts as full as a ballet dancers. If the price tags stagger you the winter Paisley cost just under $1000 remember that art comes high. Jimmy’s embroi of hair, who helped model the collection, is Rosalie Calvert, an outdoorsy California girl, who leads a normal, ranch house type existence with a husband and two little boys.
Being a model + having a stable family life – this is a great combo, and a one not that many women can achieve, so kudos to Rosalee!
In the 2010s, the octogenarian Rosalee gave an interview for the Palm Springs (you can see the whole interview on this link) , alongside Barbara Sinatra and a few others, about their lives in old Hollywood:
Rosalee Calvert of Palm Desert remembers a harder life. Breadwinner for her sons, an actor husband, and a housekeeper, she worked nonstop during her double-decade modeling career. A favorite of fashion photographer John Engstead, she says, “He saw me through three pregnancies. He’d call me up and say, ‘What’ve you got left, Rosie? Hands, feet, legs?’”
Though she made her name in Los Angeles in couture by Jean Louis and James Galanos (“She was stunning,” Galanos says), Calvert was an instant hit in New York. One of her first assignments was a Vogue post-deadline reshoot by renowned photographer Louise Dahl-Wolfe. It showed a patrician blonde in a leopard coat. Before long, her agent, the formidable Eileen Ford, could be heard fielding phone calls linking the newbie with two of the leading mannequins of the midcentury. “Well, I could give you Dovima, [Jean] Patchett, or Calvert.” Client: “Calvert?” Ford: “Page 52, current Vogue.” And then she’d hang up. “She loved to hang up on people,” Calvert recalls, chuckling.
“The most interesting and fun fashion shows ever were for [studio designer] Edith Head,” Calvert says. She modeled costumes for Carole Lombard, Lucille Ball, and Greta Garbo. “Lombard was sooo small,” she says, breathing inward and then adding, “John Engstead shot me in some of Marlene Dietrich’s costumes.” A close encounter with the icon herself followed.
“Marlene Dietrich was a good friend and client of Jean Louis.” She volunteered to help behind the scenes at a fashion show. Looking at Calvert, she said, “I’ll be your dresser, darling.” Calvert was nervous. She’d heard rumors, and worried that the diva wouldn’t know how to handle the frantic quick changes. But, Calvert notes, “She was excellent. She had everything unzipped and ready for me.” And Calvert walked away with the ultimate compliment: “You are so beautiful,” Dietrich said. “You look just like me.”
Interesting story, but when I dig a little, I noticed that Peter Coe was a working actor for most of the 1950s and 1960s, so I still hope he did bring some money to the family table. They divorced in the late 1960s.
For most of the 1970s, Rosalee was dating Richard Gully. Now, one has to wonder, who is Richard Gully? When I first started to delve deeper into the world of old Hollywood, there were names that constantly popped up, but nobody could tel me exactly why were they mentioned in the papers (usually for dating starlets). They were not actors, producers, directors of anything remotely connected to technical aspects of movie making. Some of them, like Greg Bauzter, were lawyers, some were rich boys who came to Hollywood to squire pretty girls, some were con artists (Johnny Stompanato) and so on.
Richard Gully was one of those names. The bets I could find is that he was an aristocratic Englishman, born on June 8, 1907, in the UK, and was aide-de-camp for Jack Warner. Gully’s specialty was that he knew everybody there was to know in Tinsel town and had a very active social life. The gossip columnists all loved him, as he put forth a great deal of gossip fodder by dating eligible Hollywood bachelorettes.
Here is a funny little article about Gully and Rosalie:
Richard, first earl of Gully, with Rosalie Calvert and a gorgeous actress from Munich Birgit Bergen. Birgit kept eating grapes but first washing them in champagne. A touch of class.
Their relationship ended sometime prior to 1980. Gully died on October 4, 2000 in Los Angeles.
In the 1980s, Rosalee lived in Westwood, California, and was a grandmother several times over.
As far as I know, Rosalee is still alive today and living in Palm Desert, California. As always; i hope she had a happy life and is enjoying herself right now!