Fay Morley (Lisa Carroll)

I already  noted a few times in this blog that, after writing about than 200 obscure actresses, I am not that easily impressed. However, Fay Morley really blew me of. What an incredible woman with an incredible life! Singer, songwriter, actress, all around entertainer, toy designer, educator, and the list goes on! Let’s learn more about this unusual, stunning lady!

EARLY LIFE

Fay Blossom Mogul was born in 1930 in Bismarck, North Dakota, to Freda Suzar and Manuel Mogul. Her older brother Marlowe Arnold was born in 1926 in Minnesota. Her father was a department store manager and the family was well off, employing a maid at the time of Fay’s birth.

Fay grew up in Bismarck, North Dakota, and was determined to come an actress very early, and by her teens years was taking part in acting and singing competitions. She was supported by her parents who were also showbiz aficionados – her dad was an amateur singer and her mom wanted to become an actress when she was younger.

The family moved to Minneapolis, Minnesota in the late 1930s, and a few years later to Compton, California, where her father became the owner of a cigar stand. Fay attended Compton High School, and during that time won a singing scholarship and went to New York where she studied with vocal coach Madame Olsa Eisner.

Fay wanted to pursue a career in opera singing, but first she entered UCLA as a music and drama major. She took part in numerous theater shows and slowly but surely gained experience. Ultimately, she never finished her degree because she got an offer to be in pictures and got a gig in the Pasadena playhouse. And this is how her movie career started!

CAREER

Fay appeared in only a few movies and some TV shows, as her main body of work was singing, her acting career was quite slim. her first movie was River of No Return, where she played a dance girl. The movie is considered a classic today and features a very interesting pairing – Marilyn Monroe and Robert Mitchum, and they somehow work. Mitchum was the gritty, no pretense and superficiality, hard-as-nails tough guy, and Marilyn was his in many things his antithesis – she was all blonde hair, excessive publicity pomp and careful, very conscious grooming. However, her innate sexiness and indescribable depth rub well of his minimalist, slightly brutal style. Sadly this is not a particularly good movie, with a lackluster story and only mediocre directing by Otto Preminger.

Her next movie was Battle Cry, a solid but sadly forgotten war film about US marines but told from a highly realistic perspective of life outside the battle-zone. The beginning and middle of the film deal with training, every day life, social norms and shipping of the marines to New Zealand. The last third shows us some action, but this mis-mash of genres only works half well, since most people who prefer drama will not be engaged in this part and anyone after a action war movie will never make it this far. Kudos to Van Helfin, always excellent in his roles, as the leading character.

Up next, Fay had her most meaty role in The Shrike, about a dysfunctional marriage between a stage director and his actress wife.  Fay played a problematic actress in conflict with June Allyson, the leading lady. I for one loved this movie, it’s such a raw, realistic story and leaves you with a bunch of intense feeling after watching (this is what I want my movies to do!). The performances are all first class. I generally dislike June (too squeaky clean, goodie two shoes actress with no intriguing depths), but she is actually really good here,and Jose Ferrer is pure gold!

Next came One Desire, a typical Universal drama of the 1950s – overtly dramatic, shallow of story (about a gambler and a showgirl trying to make it in the wild west) and with impossibly beautiful people suffering in a myriad of highly improbable ways. Granted, I may be too rough on these movies- they are actually often not that bad, just too stagey and artificial, and often the actor make up for it. Here we have Rock Hudson, Ann Baxter and Natalie Wood (whom I absolutely adore!), so there is enough talent to make up for any other fallacies.

Fay got some major newspaper coverage when she appeared in Diane, an overblown historical drama that is all performance and no substance – everything is beautiful but lifeless. The story concerns Diane de Poitiers, the mistress of kind . Diane is played by Lana Turner, and boy is she a mixed bag! While overall a weak actress, she did possess a certain sex appeal and charisma that was hard to ignore and what made her a star (not a real actress, but a star). In some movies it works, in some it does not. Here is works as times but let’s say she’s okay. Roger Moore, as the king, looks too young and lost amid all the lavish sets (and frankly looks ridiculous in period grab). The best role is played by the fabulous Marisa Pavan as the scheming Catherine de Médici. Fay and five other luscious girl splayed Diane’s ladies in waiting.

Except for some TV work, was that was it from Fay!

PRIVATE LIFE

In 1953, Fay was in a very serious car accident that could have ended not only her career but literary her life. After singing at the Hollywood Bowl, Fay was offered an audition with the New York Metropolitan Opera (or Warner Bros, the accounts differ). On the way to the audition, a tragedy happened. Here are some details of the accident:

Fay Morley, 22, actress and singer, and her mother, Frieda Mogel, 47, yesterday announced they’d reached “a very satisfactory settlement” of their $273,000 automobile injury suits, just as a jury was being selected. Their announcement was by their attorneys, Edward and David Pollack, In the courtroom of Superior Judge Clarence L. Kincaid. The suits grew out of injuries received by the two women in a three-car crash, Jan. 3, 1953, near Barstow, in” which four persons were killed and seven Injured. 1 Estate Defendant Defendants In the two suits were Maurice Newman, executor of the estate of Harry Friedman, deceased textiles manufacturer’, and Ralph B, Ellis, construction company head. Friedman and Mrs. Friedman were among the dead from the crash. He was driver of the car in which Miss Morley and her mother were passengers, the suit stated. ..’ , Miss Morley asked $159,000 and her mother, a dress shop owner, $114,000, charging that Friedman s; car, going at, an excessive rate, of speed, as they returned from Las Vegas, failed to take a sharp curve because of construction work with inadequate barriers. The car in which they were riding veered into an east bound lane and struck two cars, they said. Injuries Listed Miss Morley charged that she had suffered a broken pelvis, broken leg, and had lost her voice for seven months. She also missed a New York engagement to play a role in “Fasten Your Seat Belts,” a musical, she averred. Her mother had a crushed chest, punctured left lung and broken ribs, her suit stated. The amount of the settlement was not disclosed.

When she was rushed to the hospital after the accident,the doctors in the emergency room doubted that she would live through the day. “And, one doctor added, “if she does, she’ll never walk or talk again.” As it is obvious from the article, Fay had a prolonged convalescence period and was unable to work during that time, as she spent eight months in the hospital, and the year after learning how to walk and talk all over again.

It was a very difficult time for Fay, but she never lost her zest for life and was unwavering in her faith. She also had external help, as she was surrounded by friends and family who lavished her with loving attention and devotion – Charlie Chaplin’s son used to come and cheer her up.

Her vocal chords, which had been paralyzed, finally healed, and almost two years after the accident, she was ready to continue her interrupted career.  Thankfully, she bounced back emotionally and mentally stronger, and she truly needed the support – her dreams career for an opera career were dashed, and Fay need to make peace with it and had to turn to other venues. She began a career in cabaret and musical theater, landing the part as Carol Channing’s understudy in “Hello Dolly.”

Being an understudy was ultimately too underwhelming for her as Carol was a workhorse that almost never missed a performance, so Fay  left the touring production in San Francisco, hopign to find new revenues at the West Coast. However, a Hello Dolly producer, enraged by her actions, decided to blacklisted her from working on Broadway.

After California she returned to New York, and, unable to find meaningful work in New York, Fay left for England, paying her way by performing on the cruise ship that took her there. There she hosted the BBC’s “Night Ride” for three years and recorded for CBS records. She returned to New York after some time, and since the bad blood ceded a bit, she made a comeback in night club work, one woman shows in the cabaret tradition, and was a hit performer in Las Vegas. She recorded a large number of songs and was considered a reliable, talented, well liked all around performer who could easily get a gig anywhere. During this time she changed her name to Lisa Carroll.

But life had some surprised in store for Fay. In 1993 was involved in another car accident, and like last time, instead of taking it in her stride and lamenting , it transformed her life. Fay was hospitalized and spent more time listening to music, reading and contemplating. And she acquired an unusual new skill – rapping! She would rap for her nurses and they loved it! Fay slowly honed her rapping capabilities, and this opened up a whole new world for her – she was able to record “Rapping with Dr. Wruth” and “Rappin Roofus.” “Rappin Roofus” was a children’s album and became a success. Thus this car accident was also a blessing in disguise for Fay.

Her rapping career pushed Fay into yet another field of expertise – toy manufacturing! She introduced her line of toys including the Hip Hop Hamilton bear, dedicated to the Broadway rap hit Hamilton. She also created a mega successful children’s Christmas album called  “Rappin’ Up Christmas: Homeys 4 the Holidays”.

Now for her romantic life. The vibe I get from Fay was that her singing and creative work was always more important to her than dating, and as far as I can tell, she never married, but had a string of handsome beaus. She was only gal Jeff Hunter has taken out since his divorce from Barbara Rush, but they were old pals and it was more friendly than flirty.

She also dated Billy Loes, Maestro Art Mooneye, composer Mack Gordon and Martin Epstein. It seems she had a special relationship with songwriter Burt Bacharach, as attested by this funny quote:

“It was my first release. They presented the song to me and, for the b-side, anything written by Burt Bacharach would have to be a success, especially since his parents were my dearest friends. I think it sold well. That was a funny situation as [Burt’s parents] were always trying to fix me up with their son between his many marriages, but it never worked out. They wanted me for a daughter-in-law. Every time he got divorced, they would ring me and say, “Now’s the time!” But by then, I’d be off singing somewhere.”

There is tons and tons of information about Fay’s musical career in the papers and some on the net, but I won’t focus on it here, needless to say she seems like an incredible and very vibrant woman!

Fay is still alive today, and, as always, I hope she is living a great life!

Phyllis Ruth

Phyllis Ruth 6

Phyllis Ruth was one of those actresses who really, really tried to make it, but it seems that the cards were stacked against her for some reason. Petite, pretty and not too bad of a comedienne, she still didn’t manage to get out of the supporting roster into the big leagues. Let’s learn more about her!

EARLY LIFE

Phyllis Ruth Stelzner was born on March 14, 1922, in Pasadena, California,to Ernest Fred Stelzner and Mary Guilleima Stanley. Her Wisconsin born father was a manual laborer who worked as a machinist just before she was born.

Her parents divorced when she was a small girl, and her mother remarried to James Clifford O’Reilly in 1926. Phyllis lived with her new family in Los Angeles, attending elementary and high school there. Phyllis was originally more interested in singing than acting, and before graduating from high school, she worked as a singer in various local bands.

At some point, Phyllis decided to become an actress and try her luck in movies. She started knocking on studio gates and did so for some time to get this break. She was finally signed by Paramount in 1939 in and thus it all started!

CAREER

Phyllis made only 9 movies in the early 1940s before she retired, so her filmography is a bit slim. Her first movie was It’s a Date, a charming, fluffy comedy with musicals numbers, headed by Deanna Durbin and Kay Francis. Yes, they even have the same romantic interest – Walter Pidgeon. While I do generally like Walt, I can never imagine him begin a chic magnet who turns female heads heads (well, maybe except Greer Garson). Next came a low budget western, Wild Horse Range, and the less I write about then, the better 🙂

Phyllsi Ruth 5Phyllis then appeared in Always a Bride, a low budget romance movie with Rosemary Lane and George Reeves in the leads. As one reviewer succinctly wrote in IMDB; the movie is “a cheap quickie with the minimum allowable entertainment value, buoyed only by George Reeves’s charm”. Yep, have to generally agree with that one. Too bad about Rosemary, she not untalented, but never managed to get her five minutes of real fame.

Phyllis appeared in a myriad of Bob Hope movies and other such comedies. She started 1941 in Caught in the Draft, Louisiana Purchase, They Got Me Covered and Let’s Face It. While they vary in quality and are not the same old same old, it’s still Bob Hope doing what he does best – being Bob Hope! I kinda like him and enjoy someof his movies, so let’s assume this is not a bad string of films, and they are Phyllis’ feather in her cap (it’s not a lavish, big cap, but still).

Phyllis appeared in only two more movies before calling it quits: The Fleet’s In and My Heart Belongs to Daddy, both happy go lucky, thin comedies that still carry that mystical whiff of old Hollywood elegance. The Fleet is superior since it can boast a superior cast (William Holden and Dorothy Lamour),but you have Cecil Kellway in My Heart, and boy is he a hidden treasure!

That’s it from Phyllis!

PRIVATE LIFE

Phyllis is an excellent example of what happens to most girls who crash Hollywood hoping to make it based solely on their looks. Here is her story:

Movie aspirants speak longingly of crashing Hollywood as if a role or two represented the final step toward security and a career. But they can take the word of a little blond trick named Phyllis Ruth that staying in pictures is a lot harder than starting in them. Whet! she won a comedy role in “Caught in the Draft, and then in Louisiana Purchase, Miss Ruth had a private dressing room, a standin and a lot of other flattering attentions. In the midst of her work on the latter picture, she was called to the front office of Paramount, where executives intimated that her work was so good that they would like to have her around all the time. She was offered a contract. For the first time in three years of persistent effort years of sitting in casting offices and playing bit roles and weathering disappointments Miss Ruth sighed, signed and considered that her troubles were over. That was last August.. Presently, along with murmured apologies, she was given a rather small role in “The Fleet’s In. When the picture came out of the cutting room, Phyllis Ruth was just a blond flash who spoke two lines. Since then, nothing Has happened. She gets her check every week, and spends part of it for vocal and dancing lessons. She keeps her weight down to 100 pounds and goes to bed early so she’ll be in condition when the studio calls. When the studio calls, it’s always someone wanting her to donate to something, assist in a bond drive, entertain at an Army camp, or maybe pose for leg art. What makes her especially nervous is that she keeps on getting the most flattering encouragement, but nothing!

In the end, nothing happened and Phyllis gave up her career, as we already know. I can’t blame her, living like this is very nerve wracking and discouraging in the long run.

On the sunny side of the street, Phyllis and her mother, Marylin, were top notch Hollywood hostesses. They often organized get-togethers in their Malibu Beach home and were famous for their charcoal-broiled steaks and other delicacies. Their group of friends included Dennis O’Keefe, Steffi Duna, Hal Thompson, Charles Crenshaw Jr., Bob Livingston, Eleanor Stewart, Leslie Peterson, Joe Rivkin and Jules Buck.

Also, Phyllis was a truly petite woman. She had to don high heels to touch five feet, and was the tiniest blonde actress in Hollywood.

Phyllis Ruth 1But now for her love life. Phyllis dated Art Moss before getting involved with Bert Wheeler. They met in Palm Springs,  in late 1940, got involved right away and quickly became a constant twosome. Now, a bit about Bert – he was a well established comedian, part of the Wheeler and Woolsey duo. His fame could have helped Phyllis in the long run, at least to make it as a comedienne. Wheeler was born in 1895, making him almost 30 years older than Phyllis (who was barely 18 when they started dating).

As it is normal in Hollywood, less than a month after they met marriage rumors started swirling around in the press, but it seems they were premature. For one thing, Wheeler didn’t exactly have a great marital track record. He was married three times before Phyllis came into the picture, and he courted his previous bride, Sally Haine, almost four years before they were wed.

Not to discourage the local gossip mongers, despite of the obvious lack of an engagement ring, Bert professed his love for Phyllis, but denied they were engaged or contemplate marriage “unless she is a hit in pictures and can support me in tho style to which I am accustomed.” I know it’s supposed to be funny, but I could smell uncertainty a mile away, and no wonder since Wheeler did his share of martial mistakes!

By April 1941 it was clear there were some serious wobbles in the relationship, and when Wheeler departed on a personal appearance tour, it was highly unlikely they would reunite once he returned. It seems that some telephone calls were put back and forth during this uneasy time to smooth some rough edges, and when Wheeler got back after a three-month sojourn Phyllis was very, very happy.

Phyllsi Ruth 3They were set to be married not long after, and literary quarreled almost on the eve of their wedding, and called the whole thing off. They reconciled a bit later, but it didn’t yell and thy broke up again. It seems that Bert was crushed by this turn of events immediately and rushed to Mexico City with a torch in each hand, to mend his ailing heart.

Phyllis spend no time moping around her house crying, and hooked herself a few of the Tinsel Town’s most desirable bachelors: John Carroll and Edgar Bergen, plus a few others. In the meantime Bert dated Patty Orr, a dead-ringer for Phyllis (we see you Bert!).

Phyllis next serious beau was agent Joe Rivkin, and they enjoyed a nice romance and it was all looking like roses – their wedding date was almost set and they were ready to go until Ruth met Richard Denning, a fellow Paramount  contractee. They started as casual acquaintances at the studio, but soon meeting on Paramount hallways wasn’t enough, and they started to go to dinner together. In the end, Phyllis dumped Joe for Richard. The press was very much looking forward to a union, and announced wedding bells for them (the press called Richard Dick “Lucky Guy” Denning, it was a nickname that stuck for some time in 1940s). And then, boom, the engagement was over! Who knows what happened!

Phyllsi Ruth 4Luckily for Phyllis, she met the man she would marry – Truman Bradley, a former M-G-M actor, then working as a radio announcer. They met while they were playing golf and were constantly seen together afterwards. The things went from strength to strength and they were engaged by early 1942.

It seems that bad blood boiled between Phyllis and Bert even after more than a year after they separated. Once, they sat at adjoining tables at the Vine Street Radio room and nobody said hello. Phyllis was with Truman, Bert with Phyllis look-alike Patty Orr.

The couple married on June 27, 1942. Here is a short description of the wedding ceremony:

Phyllis Ruth., daughter of Mrs. Marilyn Ruth, and Truman Bradley were married recently in the First Methodist Church of Hollywood with Rev. Ray Harker officiating. Dennis O’Keefe served as best man and Mrs. O’Keefe was matron of honor. The bride wore a streets length frock of white draped chiffon and carried an old-fashioned Colonial bouquet of blue and white flowers. After the ceremony there was a buffet luncheon in the Malibu Beach home of the bride’s mother. Mr. and Mrs. Bradley left Tuesday for a honeymoon at Del Monte. Among those invited to the wedding were the Bob Hopes, the Jerry’ Colonnas, Mr, and Mrs. Johnny Weissmuller, Mr, and Mrs. Ted MacMichael, the Buster Colliers, the Pat O’Mal-leys. Martha ODriscoll, Bill Orr, Bob Stack, the Oliver Hardys, Dick Doran, the Don Amcches, Capt. and Mrs. John Detlie (Veronica Lake,) Mr. and Mrs; Peter Lind Hayes, Mr. and Mrs. Forrest Tucker and the Red Skeltons. ‘

Bradley was born on February 8, 1905 in Sheldon, Missouri, he began his career as a radio broadcaster in the 1930s and is regarded as one of the golden voices of radio. He was noted for hosting and narrating both radio and television programs to include “Young Dr. Kildare”, “Charlie Chan”, “Frontier Days”, “Action Sports” and “Science Fiction Theatre”. As an actor, he appeared in the films “Keep ‘Em Flying” (1941), “Lone Star Ranger” (1942), “Fighter Squadron” (1948), “Special Agent” (1949) and on various stage shows. He was married once before to actress Myrla Bratton.

However, the marriage was flawed from the beginning, and in a few short months Phyllis confirmed the fact that she would seek a divorce in the near  future, and Bradley confirmed their separation with the statement: “My wife didn’t come home last night. We’ve been talking about a divorce, so I guess this is it.”

Phyllis Ruth 2The Bradley separated but continued living int he same house. This never works in the long run if you want to divorce peacefully, but fate had more in store for Phyllis and Truman. After separating and living the same house for a few months, they reconciled and Phyllis was left pregnant. Their daughter Trudy Ann was born in July 1946.

However, none of the problems that precipitated their first separation were solved, and they separated again, and this time for good, barely 15 months after Trudy was born. Phyllis sued for divorce first, charging cruelty and asking for division of community property and a reasonable allowance for the support of their daughter Trudy. Bradley was allegedly earnings $2000 a month. They finally divorced in 1948. Bradley died on July 28, 1974.

Phyllis slides of the newspaper wagon from them on. She remained in Los Angeles and married and divorced a certain Mr. Ingram. I could not find any additional information on her marriage sadly.

Phyllis Ruth Ingram died on September 29, 1999, in Los Angeles.