June Tolley

Best known for being Frank Sinatra’s semi-serious girlfriend, June Tolley is actually a very interesting woman with a colorful life – from a rough childhood through 1950s modeling career, to a started marriage, then dating Frankie, getting engaged to royalty and finally finding her own niche in TV commercials, June lived through it all! Let’s learn more about her!

EARLY LIFE

Bertha June Rossiter was born on June 28, 1930, in Los Angeles, California, to June Rossiter and Anna Milano. Her father was of Swedish descent (hence his name – in English it’s a feminine name, not so in Swedish) and a taxi driver by trade. She was the youngest of seven children –  her brother Peter was born on July 27, 1918, her brother Paul was born on and died on November 10, 1919, her sister Maria Helen was born October 12, 1921, her brother Frederick was born on May 26, 1923, her sister Gloria Anna was born on September 10, 1925, and her sister Betty Jean was born on August 30, 1927.

Now for the sad part – Bertha and her two sisters, Maria and Betty were put into the Los Angeles Roman Catholic Orphan Asylum sometime before 1940. While I don’t know the whole story, it seems that their father ended up in prison (St. Quentin) their mother died, and the youngest children became wards of the state. The older children were big enough to function by themselves. This is such a sad story, but June beat the odds and became a successful model. Living in Los Angeles, she had been around movie people all her life this is how she got a bit part in Bing Crosby’s movie, “Pennies from Heaven.”, but most of her work was as photographer’s model for magazine covers, fashion ads and similar.

This catapulted her, in time, to movies, and her career started!

CAREER

According to IMDB, June appeared in only two movies and her film career is definitely not one of her stronger suits. It is possible, based on my newspaper archive research, that she appeared in a whole list of other movies and TV series, but she’s not credited so nah.

The first one is The Garment Jungle, a bag of mixed pleasures. Basically a racket movie, it’s part film noir with dramatic touches, a so-so mesh of it’s two directors – Vincent Sherman and Robert Aldrich. And boy, we can hardly find two such disparate directors!Sherman was known as a woman’s director in the vein of George Cukor – he excelled in melodrama and worked with great divas like Miriam Hopkins, Joan Crawford and Bette Davis. Robert Aldrich was the master of unseen violence, one of the few directors that showed what a phantom menace looks like. Combine them and you have an interesting experiment – not a completely successful one, mind you. The movie, which ended up begin completely unknown afterwards – has flashes of brilliance as much as some truly dismal parts. The story is nothing to gape about – racketeering in the garment district of New York – but it works as a framing device for some very relevant questions and punches you hard when you finally realize that those things happened in real life. Oh yes, people literary died in these rackets. The actors are a mixed bag too. There are wonderful actors like Lee J. Cobb and , and on the other hand, we have Kerwin Matthews in the lead, handsome enough but a total wooden pole. However, the atmosphere and the style overall is superb. There is much “angry silence”, menace and doom in the air, and you can easily feel that Robert Aldrich did a large portion of the movie. It’s his signature style – brutal yet always subtle. Sherman infuses the more “intimate parts”, and they are lacking compared to the rest of the movie. The female love interest, played by Gia Scala, is so marginal to the story it’s almost sad, and Matthews was too thin an actor to truly pull of the more challenging gentle scenes. If you could pull out the redundant cheesy side of the movie, It’s almost a wonderful film noir, and it’s a shame it so neglected today, despite its shortcomings.

The second one is The Joker Is Wild,actually a biopic made right. While not completely truthful to the source material, its got Frank Sinatra playing Joe E. Lewis and it works very nicely. The music is good and so is the supporting cast, so this one is a winner overall.

That’s all from June!

PRIVATE LIFE

June met her first husband, actor John Compton, at a Hollywood dance. They were married on October 13, 1948, when June was only 18 years old. John Compton Tolley was born on June 21, 1923, in Lynchburg, Tennessee, to Lem Tolley and Ethel Compton. His father owned a distillery and a large farm near Lynchburg. After John graduated from Moore high school In 1941, he studied agriculture at Tennessee Polytechnic institute at Cookeville for a while before he went Into the army. After his discharge he decided to try his luck in Hollywood. He joined a large number of young hopefuls living in a shared house, was working as a waiter and hanging around the actors’ union hall, the “hiring hall”, all day. Finally he got a job on a labor gang at one of the studios, cleaning up and doing odd jobs. Then they put him to answering the telephone, on the Columbia set, for Rita Hayworth. He began taking acting lessons on the set, and paid the teacher $100 to give him a good part in the class play. That was when the talent scout noticed him and his big break came. He got minor and not-so-minor parts In “Mildred Pierce,” “Cheyenne,” “O, Susanna” and other movies. When his film work dried out, he went to Broadway for a performance or two, than would return to Hollywood and so on. 

Since John’s Hollywood career was lackluster in the early 1950s, the couple decided to try their luck in the Big Apple (again). June and John were halfway across the desert on their way to New York when their old car broke down, and the garage man estimated that it would take $150 to repair it. John sold the car for $15 and spent the last money he had for two bus tickets to New York. “As soon as they got to New York, I had a call from Hollywood,” John said. “They wanted me back for a movie. They flew me back, all expenses paid”. June got jobs on TV shows in New York, in night clubs there and in Miami. Her continued appearing on magazine covers, frequently modeling brides’ costumes, evening clothes, bathing suits, sultry South Sea Island costumes for travel posters.

John and June together did summer stock for four years, at Lake Minnetonka in Minnesota, at Denver and in Ontario, and she worked at Earl Carrolls as a chorus girl. She became one of the famous Copacabana girls. June competed for the Miss Rheingold of 1954. Although she didn’t’ win the title, here is her sales pitch:

JUNE TOLLEY I have had the thrill of louring 27 hospitals in a pie wagon, appearing on the “Show of Shows,” “Man Against Crime,” “Crime Syndicated” and other TV dramatic shows, as well as playing leads In various stock companies. My modeling career was purely secondary to my theatrical career and it is a strange twist of fat that my modeling might be responsible for attaining the greatest fame of all, “Miss Rheingold of 1954.”

Now comes the fun part. I can’t be 100% sure now since both June and John are dead, but let’s try and make heads and tails of it: It was arund 1953, the Tolleys acting career proved to me mediocre at best so they decided to move to John’s ancestral home in Tennessee and become trappers. Yep, they went to live on his father’s farm, which was on a pleasant rim of green hills overlooking a wooded valley near Mulberry creek. The creek was good for fishing and trapping, and the woods are fine for hunting. The remodeled farm house, homestead of the Tolleys for more than a century, was cozily furnished and equipped with all the conveniences of plumbing and electric heating that was made available at the time.

So they went rural and have the papers know everything about it, of course! It even looks a bit like a reality show where we have two celebrities trying to live a simple life in Mississippi, miles removed from their previous glamorous life in Hollywood. Here is a highly idealized account of June’s life as a trapper’s wife:

June took to country life immediately, John said. She “adopted” the motherless calf born soon after they arrived and she has fed it from a nippled bucket since then. She is learning to recognize mink paths and muskrat slides along the creek banks where traps are set just beneath the surface of the water. She is accustomed to the faintly gory appearance of mink hides turned wrong-side-out and stretched for proper drying. She has seen John bring in 10 minks and 75 muskrats since they came home. That was about the same time that John was walking along the road by the Fayetteville cemetery one afternoon when he saw a possum, chased it under a- car, reached in and grabbed it to bring home. “You didn’t know wild mink was trapped around here?” she asked. And then, echoing her husband, she sounded like an “old hand” at the trapping game. “It’s the best.” June turned a mink tail” back on the board where the skin was drying to show the long “guard hairs.” “Domestic mink don’t have these long hairs,” she said authoritatively. “Only the wild mink. The fur wears so much longer than domestic. And it’s so much prettier.” Everybody up and down the road is a Tolley or a Motlow, and June has her share of invitations to card parties in Lynchburg, Fayetteville and Tullahoma. She and John are going to coach a home talent play a benefit show for one of Tullahoma’s civic clubs this spring. The people who used to go see every “John Compton movie” several times every time it hit a nearby town are making John’s and June’s homecoming “mighty pleasant.”

The press was fawning all over them for a time, but ultimately it seems that their new life didn’t agree with them as nicely as they told the papers, and pffffttttttttt! The point is, the Tennessee experiment failed, the Tolleys returned to New York. Not long after June split from John, as it often happens to reality show couples. They didn’t even do the standard “divorce or not divorce” dance – June was soooo over it and was seen turning up at Armando’s with textile heir/producer Bob Evans. Not surprisingly, shortly after they officially divorced. I guess that June was more than happy to leave her trapper days behind. John retired from movies, became a successful journey as a real estate developer in the Hollywood Hills and Laurel Canyon area in the 1960s, remarried to Angela Hancock in 1964 and died on May 12, 2015.

June needed a new place of her own and roomed with fellow model Gita Hall for the time being. However, a very short while after, June moved out of their apartment in a huff because Gita’s famous beaus (Prince Christian of Hanover and Errol Flynn among others) had gone to her head and made her “overhearing.” Ha ha ha ha ha!

Next up, June was dividing her time between actor Helmut Dantine and Leonard Rogers, the young tobacco tycoon. In mid 1954, she was getting the rush treatment from Lou Stoeckiin, who took her dancing at El Morocco between and after all Copa shows

Then, in late 1954, June got involved with the ultimate Hollywood catch – Frank Sinatra. It seems that their was a passionate relationship, with Frankie first meeting her in a club (probably), wooing her, leaving her, than not being able to forget her, then crooning her and writing her long, sultry letters and giving her long distance phone calls. They alternated between New York and Los Angeles, and she was often mentioned in the papers at Frank’s girl of the moment.

However, the romance was flawed from the very beginning – not only was she just divorced (that definitely didn’t help matters) but Frank was unhappily estranged from Ava Gardner. The fact remains, Ava was his one great love and nobody could quite measure up to her. Plus Frankie was a serial womanizer who dated women by the truckload. He did introduce June to his children, and she was seen with Frankie Jr. at least once.

Frankie had a string of side pieces, but so did June – she was squired by Dick Cowell whenever she was in the East, and probably a few nameless others. Then, after months of intense left and right, Frankie went on a Gloria Vanderbilt kick and seemingly forgot June. They did some minor dating but the affair was over for the most part, and her five minutes of fame were also over.

After she and Frank were went kaput for good, June deserted LA for NY to do TV commercials. “Seventy-four per Cent of the commercials are still done in NY,” she told the papers. In NY, June became a highly highly successful TV commercialist, appearing in a large number of commercials.

Fast forward to 1960, and we have June engaged to Count Klaus Bentheim, a member of an elegant old German family. And no, this wasn’t just a newspaper park – they were seen holding hands during a dinner party at Ruby Foo, and June unveiled an engagement diamond ring. So, it truly was serious and they even had the date penciled in August 20.

While I could find any information about what exactly happened between them, the wedding never took place and my guess is that the German aristocratic in-laws didn’t take it too kindly to their son marrying a divorced working girl who did refrigerator commercials for a living. Snobs maybe? But, it’s just a guess.

June’s next serious beau was the handsome high society dandy, Harry Cushing IV. If you read this blog, you’ll know him from his wild marriage to Georgette Windsor. They dated for a few years, but didn’t get to the altar. It was also noted that June was famous as the latest Jackie Kennedy look-alike, and Jackie Gleason just used her in a White House sketch.

June falls of the newspaper radar from them on, so I can’t say what she was up to after the late 1960s. What we do know is that June married a certain Jacques B. Wilson and continued living in Los Angeles.

Bertha June Wilson died on January 13, 2001, in Los Angeles, California.

Vina Gale

Vina Gale was a chorus girl who never made it to billed parts, but it seems she was a solid dancer and that she enjoyed her dancing bits very much. After a brief career, she got happily married and raised a large family. Let’s learn more about her!

EARLY LIFE

Hervina Irene Gale was born on June 8, 1907, in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada, to Herbert Lancelot Gale and Eliza Ashman. She was the middle of three children – her older brother, Herbert, was born in 1904, and her younger sister Nora in 1918. Her father was a carpenter who worked as a coach builder. Both of her parents were English immigrants, her father from Bristol and her mother from Somerset.

Hervina grew up in Manitoba, possessing a strong dramatic streak since her earliest days – she performed for local crowds in various places and capacities, including for Armistice Day in St. Stephen’s church, when she was 11 years old. She probably dreamed, like many girls, of becoming a famous Hollywood actress.

Sadly Vina’s brother Wallace died in 1920 and the family moved to Los Angeles sometime after his death. I am guessing that Vina graduated from high school in Los Angeles and continued to hone her dancing skills in local dance schools. By 1930, she was working in movies as a dancer, and thus her career started!

CAREER

Vina appeared in seven movies, and literary all of them are musicals, and as you can guess, she was always an unbilled chorus girl. Before her first marriage, she made two musicals in 1929, both forgotten today – Fox Movietone Follies of 1929 and Words and Music. The only merit Word and Music have is that John Ford and John Wayne allegedly met while making it, and together they changed cinema history!

Vina returned to the sound stage in 1933, after her divorce, and made five more musicals, all very much alike – Too Much Harmony, Flying Down to Rio, George White’s Scandals, College Rhythm and Redheads on Parade. They are all typical early 1930s musicals – thin, non existent plot, a great number of pretty chorus girls parading around (sometimes half naked), often bland and boring main characters but excellent comedic support, and generally very good music. So if you’re not looking for Shakespearean style meditations on life and morals, go right ahead, these movies truly are fun and make for a perfect Sunday morning viewing. On the plus side, at least she appeared in the same movie as Fred and Ginger and Bing Crosby!

That was it from Vina!

PRIVATE LIFE

Vina was a Ziegfeld girl and during her tenure with the show became very close to a few of her fellow chorines. When Georgia Pemberton became the bride of Donald C. De War, Vina was maid of honor, and her good friends Margaret Butler and Lee Auburn were also in attendance.

Vina herself married Dr. Dee Miller in 1930. Dee Gamewell Miller was born on April 13, 1905, in Oregon, to Gamewell and Lulu Miller. The family moves to Phoenix, Arizona before moving to Los Angeles sometime int the 1920s. He became a doctor started to practice medicine before 1930. Vina gave up movies and dancing to become a housewife.

However, the marriage proved to be short lived and they divorced in 1932, with Vina testifying that he punched her in the chin. I sure hope that was an isolated incident and that she left him before more domestic violence erupted, but we can’t knwo for sure. Miller stayed in California after the divorce, continued to work in his practice, and married once again in the 1940s. He died on September 14, 1957, in Los Angeles.

Here is an interesting article about chorus girls in movies in the early 1930s, and Vina is mentioned as one of them. Read it, it’s really something!

Hollywood chorus girls think pretty well of themselves. They admit frankly they have sex appeal. Many of them consider themselves exceptionally beautiful, almost all know they possess great talent. They are proud of their figures. denounce the Mae West trend toward curves, and do not diet. On top of this they support partially or entirely support relatives, I learned as a result of talking to the 26 girls who are dancing In B. P. Schulbergs “Her Bodyguard” with Edmund Lowe and Wynne Gibson. Twenty-two of the dancers know they have sex-appeal. Seven admit they are exceptionally beautiful. Only one doesn’t claim extraordinary talent. Seventeen are proud of their figures and only five diet. All but three scoff at the possibility of Mae West making curves nationally popular. . , , The Paramount girls are typical of Hollywood, it was declared. They hare forked In “International House,” College Humor 42nd Street,” “The Gold Diggers of 1933, “Her Bodyguard” and , numerous other pictures. With an average age of 19.75 years, the LeRoy Prinz girls have amassed a total 147 years of professional experience, 102 of that n pictures. Most of them have danced about six years. The model chorus girl of Hollywood is five feet three Inches tall, weighs 144 pounds, has blue eyes, a 24-inch waist, wears a four-and-a-half B plus shoe and is a blonde. Their ideal man was shown to be a paragon of virtue. Given three qualities to demand in the ideal male, 24 of the girls asked for Intelligence, 19 for a good disposition, 16 for honesty, nine for ambition, seven for the good dresser, four for good breeding, three for masculinity and one each for the good drinker, sobriety, personality and wealth. Financial independence Is one of the outstanding characteristics of the Hollywood dancer. Twenty of the 26 are entirely self supporting. Two help support themselves. Twelve have dependents. Three contribute partially to their family’s up-keep; two support one relative; six support two relatives and one is burdened with a family of four. Exactly half of the girls live under false colors. Thirteen of them have changed the color of their hair either by bleaching or hennaing it. Thirteen are blonde, six are red heads and seven are brunettes. They have no fear of putting on weight with beer for 19 of them like the amber fluid. Fifteen of them drink stronger mixtures at times. ‘ Despite their youth, four of the girls are married and two are divorced. Only one doesn’t believe tn marriage while six are unconditionally against divorce. The typical Hollywood chorine is ambitious. Only seven of the girls have none! Those with ambition usually are aiming high. To he a successful actress, naturally, topped the list. Audrene Bier, Vee Allen, Adele Cutler, Betty Wood and Ruth Jennings wish to act Vina Gale wants to he a comedienne. Jeanette Dickson, Kathryne Hankin and Patsy want to be writers. Evelyn Carpenter has a modest request for small parts in pictures while Naomi Fay Chism demands screen stardom. Barbara McClay aspires to the stage. Three of the girls are domestically Inclined. They want success either in careers or home life. They are Virginia Dabney, Grace Davies and Joyce Murray. Sugar Geise wants financial independence and success. Peggy Allen and Georgia Clark want to be great dancers. Dorothy White hopes for a career as a costume designer.

Too bad that, of those mentioned here, only Virginia Dabney had a semblance of a career (and sadly, that’s not saying much!). Makes you wonder what happened to each of the girls in later life? Did they lead happy lived outside cinema-land? Or maybe stayed in Hollywood and worked at some backstage function?

Anyway, the papers reported that Vina, and Jack Manildi, oil man, were married in 1934. When I read this, i was sure that Minaldi was a proper, real oilman, probably from Texas, with money to spare. Not quite so. It seems that Minaldi was a different story all together.

So, a bit about him. Gildo “Jack” Minaldi (it’s even spelled Manidli sometimes, so I can’t be 100% sure) was born on January 6, 1906, in Santa Cruz, California to Eugene Minaldi and Henrietta Soria, bith Italian immigrants. He grew up in Santa Cruz and became a all-around star athlete of Santa Cruz high school. He later attended Pomona college. He was one of Santa Cruz high school students who attained his college education through the generosity of Miss Elsie M. King, teacher of mathematics at the local high school. As Jack said later in life about his education:

“I am a protege of one of your citizens, Miss Elsie M. King. I lived in her home the last two years of my high school attendance, after which she financed completely my college education. As you may know, she has financed either partially or all the education of at least six others in the years she has been at Santa Cruz, and has so unselfishly and unassumingly done so much for others. I definitely feel that her teachings and influence were instrumental in my development at a very important time in my life.”

This is such a wonderful, heartwarming story and it’s so nice to know you can find such human moments if you look for them. After graduation Jack was coach of the Harvard Military Academy for a few years and then with the Oil Well Supply company of Los Angeles (this is why they named him an oilman, ha ha ha ha) for about ten years. Ultimately ha was appointed manager of sabs for the Pacific Tube company of Los Angeles.

Minaldi married Helen Avresta Crane in 1929. She tragically died, aged only 25, after only three years of marriage, thus Jack was a widower when he married Vina.

At the beginning of their marriage Vina still wanted to continue her career, at least for a little while, which was unusual for most chorus girls. Even after their son, Jack King, was born on October 30, 1935, she still wished to pursue her dancing. However, a nasty incident occurred in late 1935:

Flames that flared Op when the transparent costume of a movie chorus girl touched an electric switch inflicted serious burns on the dancer and threw a film company into turmoil. The girl, Vina Gale, was reported in “fair” condition today at the Cedars of Lebanon hospital after, a restless night. Her husband, Jack Manildi, kept an all night vigil at the bedside with their seven-month-, old baby. The accident occurred yesterday at a studio where a musical show was being filmed. Miss Gale danced ‘ t-o close to the switch and the hoop! of her dress caused a short circuit. Miss Gale screamed and ran when her costume ignited. ‘ A studio electrician grabbed her and extinguished the flames. Several other dancers who had been touched by Miss Gale were able to slap out the fires that started in their dresses without injury. There wTere about fifty girls dancing with Miss Gale at the time. Order was quickly restored and the company went back to work today.

Here is a more poetic description of the incident:

Suddenly there is a shrill cry, a scream of fear and pain, as one of the girls leaps to her feet, her fluffy yellow dress afire. Tinsel on her skirt has come into contact with an electric cable apparently not fully protected and set her aflame. The young woman, who is Vina Gale, mother of a five-month old son, starts running for the nearest exit, while momentarily panic grips .the entire assemblage. Not all, however, lose their heads. A few who do not rush to tear off the blazing dress put out the flames. The they wrap the young woman In the first thing that comes to hand, a piece of carpet, and carry her to a near by set on which there is a bed. Soon a doctor and an ambulance arrive, and they hurry the lovely young dancer to a near by hospital as word goes around she is suffering from second degree burns about the body. A few moments later the director calls “Ready, everyone.”

Vina made a full recovery and retired not long after. The couple had four more children:  Gale Louise, born on June 12, 1938, Gary Robert, born on July 10, 1941, Stephen Crane, born on February 11, 1946, and Lynn Shelley, born on July 14, 1948. vina became a naturalized Us citizen in 1941. The Minaldi family lived in California and Vina was very active in local civic events.

The Minaldis moved to Honolulu, Hawaii, at some point, probably after Jack went into retirement. Jack died in Hawaii in September 1981. Vina stayed in Hawaii and didn’t’ remarry.

Vina Gale Minaldi died on July 29, 1994, in Honolulu, Hawaii.

Madelyn Darrow

Madelyn Darrow was as cute as a button, with a sunny smile, perfectly coiffed hair, knock-out figure. Al of this combined with an innocent girl-next-door charm made Madelyn a wonderful representation of the 1950s dream girl. The youngest of the three stunning Darrow sisters (Alice, Barbara and Madelyn), all of whom were successful models (and Barbara even a semi successful actress), Madelyn had much going her way, from a supportive family, connection in the showbiz world and natural beauty, but it seems that her heart was always more in rising a family so her movie career is slim indeed. Let’s learn more about her!

EARLY LIFE

Madelyn C. Wittlinger was born on February 21, 1935, in Hollywood, California, to George H. Wittlinger and Alice Alexandria Simpson. She was the youngest of three siblings – her older sisterss were Alice Emeline, born on November 29, 1929, and Barbara, born on November 18, 1931. Her father was a motion picture landscape artist, and her mother a former silent screen actress. Her uncle was actor turned agent, John Darrow.

Since Madelyn was from a showbiz family and born and bred in the heart of movie-land, it’s no wonder that she could not remember any time in her life she didn’t want to be an actress. Also, her older sister Barbara went into movies pretty early (leaving high school to sign a contract), under the moniker of Barbara Darrow, a surname which Madelyn would adopt one day too.

Madelyn effortlessly stepped into the modeling field as soon as she graduated from Hollywood High school. She appeared on the covers of Life, Colliers, Pageant and the Ladies Home Journal among others. This opened her the gate to Hollywood!

CAREER

Slim pickings here! Only three movies and a few minor TV appearances 😦 So, let’s start! Madelyn’s first movie was Guys and Dolls, the classical musical brought on the screen by Joe Mankiewicz and headed by Frank Sinatra,. Jean Simmons, Vivian Blaine and Marlon Brando. Yep, the Marlon Brando, never known for his singing voice but a man with such intense and strong charisma you don’t actually care. This is a great classical musical, with everything going for it – great music, top notch dancing and a enormously talented acting cadre.

Her second movie was The Ten Commandments. Who doesn’t love this movie! It has all the hallmarks of DeMille’s best of the best – larger than life story, first class actors and absolutely lavish sets and costumes. Truly, DeMille had that magical touch and it’s hard to define what he did, but the fact is, he did ti with style and gust deluxe.

Madelyn’s last movie was The Garment Jungle. It’s the least known of the movies she made, but still when you have Mankiewicz and DeMille as your competition, you can be very, very good and still be neglected and overlooked. Actually, this is a solidly made and sharply observed movie about trade unions and factory owners and their dirty tricks and fights. There is a particularly strong cast with Lee J. Cobb in the lead and Robert Loggia, Richard Boone, Wesley Addy and Joseph Wiseman in supporting roles. Gia Scala and Valerie French are okay but not really great in their roles.

That was all from Madelyn!

PRIVATE LIFE

Madelyn’s claim to fame was being the 1958 Rheingold Girl. We have to look back and see just how popular that brand of beer was and just how big of a deal the Rheingold girl was, much like the Miss Universe pageantry was in the 1990s. After winning the title, Madelyn enjoyed a year of glamour and endless photo shoots. As she later told the papers:

“My prize was $50,000,” says Madelyn Darrow, who felt like a billionaire. “They paid for my apartment on Sutton Place. I had a limousine at my disposal. I was so young. I thought that was how all New Yorkers lived.”

Madelyn was described as the outdoor type. She liked tennis, golf and swimming. She told the papers that some day she hopes to marry, but the man she marries will have to be sincere, humble and have a sense of humor.  When asked if it is a bad thing to show some intelligence to a man, Madelyn answered:

Absolutely not. I think it’s wonderful to show any intelligence or knowledge. I think you can overdo anything, however.

And now for her love life! In 1953, a Life magazine article paired her with a local life guard, the very wholesome and handsome Bill Abell, but I can’t tel is it was a newspaper stunt or the real deal, but anyway they didn’t’ last. In 1955, Madelyn was pretty serious about Robert Dix, son of the late Richard Dix. Bob liked pretty girls, and Madelyn was just his type – dark-haired, cute as a button and fresh as a rose. However, they broke up before the year was out. Bob married another beautiful starlet, Janet Lake, in 1956.

Madelyn started 1957 by dating Ronnie Knox, and was later seen around town with oilman Stuart Cramer III (who married Jean Peters and Terry Moore). At some point, she dated arranger Buddy Bregman.  Druing their courtship, there was a tense moment in the Moulin Rouge club when Buddy’s estranged wife Gloria Haley and her date for the night, Jeffrey Hunter, were seated at the same table where Buddy and his date, Madelyn also were slated to sit. Gloria and Jeffrey tactfully shifted to another spot.

But those were fleeting romances. A more permanent beau was Marty Kimmell, the handsome, well-connected, young and wealthy New Yorker who was wed to Gloria DeHaven for a brief time. In the beginning of their relationship, Marty played the field heavily, dating singers Eileen Barton and Jill Corey, and starlet Trudy Wroe. Madelyn herself was seen around town with James Morrow and even dated Ted Kennedy from time to time.

Things changed her Madelyn went to New York for the “Miss Rheingold” contest, and she and Marty became a solid duet while on his home turf. They dated for most of her Miss Rheingold tenure and there were rumors they might even wed someday. For unknown reasons, they broke up in late 1958 or early 1959, but despite this bittersweet ending it seems that it was a really nice and romantic relationship.

In 1959 Madelyn dated Gary Crosby before hooking up with tennis champ Pancho Gonzalez. They met at a tennis club, he gave her lessons and, ultimately, married her! Okay, things didn’t go that smoothly as Pancho was still married at the time, just separated from his wife, Henrietta, his high school lady love, and father of three boys. In September 1959, after a intense relationship of a few months, Pancho went on a tour (which greatly saddened Madelyn, as the papers wrote), and after he came back in 1960, the dice was thrown – it was marriage for Madelyn and Pancho. First he divorced Henrietta – she testified at their divorce hearing that Pancho had telephoned her from New York and told her he wouldn’t return to her after completing the tour. After the divorce was made final, he wed Madelyn in 1958 and they honeymooned in Honolulu. Their twin daughter, Marissa and Christina, were born on April 13, 1961.

Pancho led a peripatetic existence during the early stages of the marriage, traveling from one tournament to the other. Things changed after Madelyn gave birth to the twins. Madelyn had the measles and is being isolated from them. Judging his life style too hectic for a normal, stable family life, Pancho decided to retire, at least for a while, and try and live in one place. The couple’s third daughter, Shauwnna, was born on October 4,  1963. The couple divorced in 1968, remarried in 1970 and divorced in 1971.

Now something about Pancho. He was born Richard Alonzo Gonzales in Los Angeles, on May 9, 1928, one of seven children. He was a self taught player who became one of the tops, a rare occurrence in any sports field but tennis especially.

Here is a very good, concise article about Pancho, taken from Sports JRank web site:

Irascible and prone to raging against his opponents and umpires, Gonzales was nonetheless popular among tennis audiences, and he always drew a crowd. As the reigning champion, he trounced Ken Rosewall, Lew Hoad, and many others. Yet he was unhappy with his touring contracts, which always offered more money to the challenging player than to him, the reigning champion. Gonzales also faced marital troubles; he and Henrietta divorced in 1958. Soon after, he married Madelyn Darrow, with whom he had three daughters.

Gonzales prevailed in the round-robin tours until his contract expired in 1961. After briefly retiring, he returned to lose a humiliating first-round match at the U.S. Professional Grass Court Championships. For the next several years he turned his attention to coaching tennis, leading the U.S. Davis Cup team to the finals against Australia in 1963, and tutoring young American players, including Arthur Ashe.

When tennis “opened” in 1968, allowing amateurs to compete with professional players, 40-year-old Gonzales, no longer in the peak of his career, returned to play the major championships. A presence at all the major tournaments that year, he made a good showing but did not win a title. In what was perhaps his last moment in the spotlight, Gonzales won a grueling 112-game match against a player half his age, Charles Pasarell, in the first round of the 1969 Wimbledon tournament. The score stood at 22-24, 1-6, 16-14, 6-3, 11-9 after the five-hour and twelve-minute match—the longest in Wimbledon history. Gonzales continued playing well into his forties, becoming the oldest man to win a tournament, in Iowa, in 1972. He retired two years later, at age 46, and played senior events until the mid-1980s

After he retired Gonzales joined Ceasers Palace in Las Vegas as a professional coach—a job that he loved, and would keep for nearly two decades. He and Madelyn had married and divorced twice, ending the relationship for good in 1980; between his two marriages to her, he had three others. His sixth and final marriage was to Rita Agassi, sister of the U.S. tennis star Andre Agassi; the couple had a son, Skylar.

We can gather from this information that he was a passionate, driven, fiery individual and probably not the easiest man to live with. Tennis was his first and foremost love, and he had a strong devotion to his children and the large Gonzalez family – it seems his wives were always somewhere down the ladder and many people noted he didn’t treat them quite nicely.  Altough, in public, Madelyn spoke highly of her husband (she often talked how they played tennis together – “Richard is still very sweet about tennis, He’ll play with me anytime I want—real tennis, too, not just hitting the ball.”), who knows what was happening behind the scenes. Actress Diane McBain got involved with Pancho in the late 1960s while he and Madelyn were still married, but in a strange and complicated separation process, and wrote in her autobiography that Madelyn had never taken to Panchos’s side of the family and was not too enthusiastic to spend time with them. Could this be the focal friction point that pushed the couple from marriage, divorce, marriage again and divorce again? it also seems that Madelyn preferred that Gonzalez pursue business opportunities rather than tennis, and we all know that tennis was the number one star in his life.

Overall, we can assume they were very much in love at one point, but they were ultimately incompatible and divorced for good in 1971. Madelyn stayed in California, living a quiet family life with her daughters, and rarely appeared in the papers. Sadly, her youngest daughter Shauwnna died at age twelve in a horseback riding accident.

Madelyn is still alive today and lives in California. As always, I hope she had a happy life!