Gale Ronn

There is not much information about Gale Ronn on the internet, and not much will be said about her. So why did I choose to profile her? Because learning about Gale and her career will brings us closer to understanding what it meant to be a Hollywood extra during the golden years and it can perhaps answer the question how did he whole extra system function and could you actually live by working as an extra? Let’s learn more!

EARLY LIFE

Lillie Gale Randel was born on December 5, 1907, in Iola, Kansas, to Robert Elmer Randel and Nellie Clyde Capsey. Her older sister Violet was born on September 16, 1903, and her younger brother James was born on December 9, 1917. Her was father was a builder by trade. He was born at Corning, Kansas, moving to Manhattan; Kansas as a young man. Then he came to Allen, Kansas and worked in construction in the area.

The Randels were solid middle class, and Gale and her siblings grew up in the typical small-town America of yesteryear. Gale attended high school in Iola Kansas, and was often featured in the society section of the local newspaper. After graduation in 1924 she moved to Kansas City to become a fashion model.

Gale was successful enough as a Kansas city mannequin for a few years, but sound movies ushered a new era in movie making, and ton of young girls poured into Hollywood to make it and earn better wages. The lure of film also brought Gale out to Tinsel town in about 1932. Despite he fact hat she had no previous acting experience, she was successful at nabbing a contract right away. So started her career.

CAREER

Gale was a movie extra and based on the stuff I read about her, it seems she appeared in a whole lot more movies than the ones mentioned on her IMDB page. Sadly, this can actually be the case with most of the girls I profile here. But, let’s see what IMDB has to offer.

Gale’s first movie, in 1932, was Sinners in the Sun. It’s a mid of the road melodrama, with a tried and baked story, as one reviewer wrote on IMDB: “standard story of a couple poor people who think money is the answer and they have to learn that it isn’t more important than love”. However, there is an ample number of very good performers in it – Carole Lombard, Chester Morris, Cary Grant in an early and small role, Alison Skipworth, Adrienne Ames (such a beauty!).

Her second movie was Stand Up and Cheer!. Since this movie has a ton of extras, I think I reviewed it at least 3 times, so I’m not gonna write anything much more about it. Gale moved to the A class productions, and appeared in The Gilded Lily This is a typical 1930s romance movie with Claudette Colbert caught in a love triangle with Fred MacMurray and Ray MIlland (poor girl, she could do worse). It’s a nice and sweet movie, nothing deep but entertaining enough and the leads are charming as always.

Sadly, IMDB next lists Gale working on a movie that was not A class anymore – A Girl with Ideas. It’s another of the madcap heiress comedies made popular by It happened one night. The heiress in the movie is Wendy Barrie, and the newspaperman is Walter Pidgeon, not exactly Claudette and Clark but not too shabby. Anyway, the film is very funny, a “terrific rush of nonsense” as the reviewer wrote on IMDB, not a classic but immensely watchable and endearing. Gale was once again in the A class with You Can’t Take It with You, perhaps the best known movie of the lot. He plot is simple enough: A man from a family of rich snobs becomes engaged to a woman from a good-natured but decidedly eccentric family. This is one of those ultimate feel-good movies that make your week! And so many good actors – Jimmy Stewart, Jean Arthur, Lionel Barrymore, Edward Arnold, Ann Miller! Enjoy it!

Gale made three movies movies in he 1940s. The first was Beyond the Blue Horizon, one of the many Dottie Lamour in the jungle exotic films. What can I say, people loved Dottie in a sarong, somewhere on an tropical island, with a young, handsome and muscular man as a mate – that was pure and wonderful escapism. The movies roll, The stories changes ever so slightly, put the point stayed the same. The story here is that Dottie’s parents were killed in the jungle when she was a child, and she was raised, like Mowgli, by animals. Then comes a greedy capitalist who wants to abuse the jungle, and a handsome knight, scantly dressed, and ready to help our heroine and save the jungle (Richard Denning, not that well remembered today but what a hunk). There is a nice scenes with elephants and some good music, and it seems  a lot of folks remember watching this when it came out or just afterwards, with much nostalgia. That’s really nice!

Experiment Perilous is a lower quality version of Gaslight. It doesn’t have the solid performances of Charles Boyer and Ingrid Bergman, but George Brent and Hedy Lamarr were adequate and the movie is agreeable enough. Gale’s last movie listed on IMDB is Repeat Performance, an uniquely insular movie. A beautiful actress kills her cheating, alcoholic husband on New Year’s Eve, but soon finds she’s getting the chance to relive the past year of her life all over again. The twist at the end is great, and the movie definitely goes outside the typical Hollywood cannon. Too bad it’s not an A class production, but good actors make up for it – Joan Leslie sheds her nice girl persona and is actually pretty good at it – Louis Hayward is his (wonderful) cynical self, and Richard Baseheart made his movie debut here! What’s not to like!

That’s i from Gale!

PRIVATE LIFE

Gale was a beautiful blonde with blue eyes who weighted 100 lbs in her Hollywood prime. The press wrote this about her beauty secrets;

Gale Ronn, a statuesque blond, who admits that one secret of beauty lies in her dressing room mirror. It is there that she spends many hours perfecting her coiffure, make-up and all details of her attire.

So, Gale emphasized taking your time to properly set yourself up – not a bad hint, and definitely one most people don’t comply, myself first!

Gale married her first husband, Phillip E. Flanagan (or Phillip Harlan) in Colorado Springs, Colorado, in September 1924, just after she graduated. Harlan was born in 1901 – that is literary all I know about him. I cam assume that they lived together in Kansas City, but hey divorced prior to 1930.

No other information is available about Gale’s private life. However, the reason why Gale tickled my fancy is an article that was published in 1935 that very well illustrates how a successful movie extra lived and worked, both male and female. Gale was featured as the female extra, and actor Oliver Cross as the male extra. Here is the article:

 GALE RONN, who Is blonde, 29, and Kansas City bred, has been revealed as the woman extra who earned the most money during 1934. She averaged ?50 weekly. But talk about it? Not Gale, who fears the jealous taunts of her fellow extras. Oliver Cross is the male extra whose – – . earnings last year were more man any other extra’s, man or woman. He averaged $54 weekly, but he considers the disclosure no compliment to his ability. In fact, he took just the opposite view. Although he was financially the most successful extra, he considers himself a failure. “Why advertise failure?” he asks. TWO IN ONE DAY To meet a person in Hollywood who does not want to discuss his accomplishments is rare, but to find two in one day is extraordinary. But hear the stories of the woman and the man who are tops in the extra army: “Unless one is an extra, It is dim cult to understand why I will not talk about being, as you call it, the “Number one girl,” explained Gale Ronn when I discovered her on the “Paris in Spring” set. “Many of the people with whom I work daily already have shown their resentment toward me by ‘ribbing me, and I know that others have said unkind things behind my back.” Miss Ronn implied in her guarded remarks that only an extra could realize- how jealous other players can be of one of their number’s success. That she might “get into trouble” if it became too widely known that she had had more days’ work than any other woman extra, was clearly inferred. She said “people would write letters and everything” and these letters might influence the casting bureau to give her less work. CAN’T ACT, SHE SAYS “No, I don’t. want publicity and I don’t think it would do me any good to have my picture taken,” Gale went on. “I don’t want to be an actress because I’m pretty sure I can’t act. “I make a good living and I have lots of clothes. I make more money than a stenographer, whose ambition is to live well and wear nice clothes. Why should I want to try being an actress? No, I’m satisfied being an extra.” Miss Ronn has been an extra four and a half years. She came to Hollywood from the East several years ago and first earned her living as a clothing model. A FAILURE, HE SAYS Oliver Cross came here from Buffalo, N. Y. how long ago he wouldn’t say with the hope of becoming a star. “I’m not a star,” he told me when I found him working in “In Caliente.” “I’m nothing but a clothes horse a failure. Yes, I know I’m supposed to have made more than any other extra last year, but what of it? How do you suppose I got 195 days’ work last year? Because I know a director? Nothing like it. Because I’ve invested hundreds of dollars in my wardrobe.” Cross’ inference was that studios call him to work because they know he has the clothes to wear in any atmosphere. He is tall, dark-haired and handsome.

Viola! We know a bit more about movie extras now, and Gale seems a very realistic, grounded person who knew her limits well and had a plan on how to make a living. This is totally in sync with her meticulous approach to appearances. Anyway, it seems that Gale did not remarry, and continued living in California long after her career was over.

Gale Ronn died in ? (sorry, I could not find a date, but she is listed in the obituary section in Ancestry.com). As always, I hope she had a good life!

Erin Selwyn

Stunningly beautiful and with some dancing talent, Erin Selwyn got into Hollywood the beauty pageant way and ended up like most of her peers – in the uncredited pool and retired after a few years of acting bits and pieces. Although I have to say her filmography is more substantial than one can assume! Lets learn more about her!

EARLY LIFE

Dorothy Loretta O’Kelly was born on to on September 26, 1917, in Chicago, Illinois, to Walter Raymond O’Kelly and Winifrid Virginia Laughlin. She was their only child. Her father was an accountant and insurance clerk who served in WW1. Dorothy grew up in Chicago, a beautiful child equally at home among books and in dancing, which she loved early.

Erin’s mother and father had planned for her to become a school teacher. Erin shone in higher mathematics at school and there was talk of becoming a math teacher but her love for the dramatics won over, and she went for a modeling job in New York and then returned to Chicago to do some secretarial work. It was in Chicago she got her start toward Hollywood by winning two beauty contests. One of the film talent scouts was scanning the evening sheets for new talent and saw Erin and you signed her up, and off she went!

CAREER

Erin signed with MGM and appeared in a string of good, mid of the road and abysmal movies, each in his genre. IMHO, let’s categorize them by genre then:

MUSICALS: A dancer by trade, it was logical that Erin would end up in the chorus at some point in her career. She was at MGM when they belted out a large number of high quality musicals, and she was cast in a good number of solid ones.

Her first movie (and musical,) was Meet the People, a mid of the road Lucille Ball/Dick Powell pairing. Not the best pairing, not the best movie, so moving on. Then came a Esher Williams aquatic musical, Bathing Beauty, colorful, enjoyable and paper thin. More of the same came with Thrill of a Romance, another Esther Williams musical, just with a different leading man (Van Johnson this time), a Betty Grable/Dan Dailey extravaganza, Call Me Mister, a mediocre Kathryn Grayson musical, Grounds for Marriage, and finally perhaps her best known musical, Brigadoon, based on the Alan Jay Lerner Broadway musical, with Gene Kelly and Cyd Charrise in the leads.

DRAMA: We have a few good movies here. Already her first drama, Mrs. Parkington, is a minor classic.Primarily a lovely, very nice to watch movie, it concerns the generations of the Parkington family, with Greer Garson plays the title namesake, the matriarch Mrs. Parkington. Walter Pidgeon is her raking, ruthless Wall Sreet husband with a wandering eye. A ton of good actors are in it: Agnes Mooehead (as a French mistress non the less!), Gladys Cooper, Edward Arnold, Cecil Kellway… Only MGM in it’s golden period could have such a cast of distinguished thespians! And the set and costume design are absolutely divine. Right after came the war movie, Thirty Seconds Over Tokyo. If you didn’t think that Cary Grant could be serious, watch this!

Going on. While not a straight drama but more of a film noir, The Arnelo Affair cannot be categorized as either a musical or a comedy, quite the opposite. This heavy, forbearing movie about a woman who succumbs to a very dangerous man. And guess what happens after that. Yep, it’s a cautionary tale and a part weepie. The cast is meh – Frances Gifford in the lead is a wooden block, and John Hodiak, while quietly menacing, has a sub par role. Eve Arden gives a little pizzazz to the otherwise insipid story-line, but that’s hardy enough to warrant a re-watch! Erin’s next movie was much better – The Hucksters. This is a movie that I personally love, about Madison avenue PR people. Although watered down a great deal from the source material (a book), it’s sill a very relevant critique on the modern marketing world. And the cast is uniformly great – Clark Gable, Deborah Kerr, Ava Gardner. And my favorite, Sydney Greenstreet. He’s an absolute master here, tops, his scenes are a hoot! Erin also racked up two low budget but solid noirs: Close-Up and Scene of the Crime. Both are recs, as both are hard-code, no-frills movies with a dark edge.

Shadow in the Sky tackled some serious problems – psychological horrors that WW2 veteran had to overcome after the war was over. There were a few movies in he late 1940s and early 1950s that dealt with this issue – The Men with Marlon Brando and Teresa Wright being the most famous. This is a very good, but difficult and bitter movie – Ralph Meeker played the veteran confined in an asylum, and Nancy Reagan and Jean Hagen as female support.

We also have to mention Moonfleet. This is a rowdy, lightweight, super fun adventure movie about a smugglers son and his adventures. Werd that it was directed by Fritz Lang, known for making a completely dissimilar type of movies, but he’s such a good director that is just works.

COMEDIES: Plenty of good ones here. We can count Her Highness and the Bellboy as a light MGM comedy, not heavy on neiher laughs or music. I watched the movie for Hedy Lamarr – not a great actress but so beautiful and had an unique presence – I already noted that I dislike June Allyson (while she did possess some acting chops and wasn’t totally talent-less, I just don’t like her) so most of her movie are a meh, like this one. Robert Walker is okay. Then came Love Laughs at Andy Hardy, and what can I say, it’s a typical MGM feel good movie that will make your today even int he 21st century, but will leave nobody truly emotionally touched. Shallow but nice and upbeat entertainment, and Mickey Rooney is a hoot as always. And he has Bonita Granville and Lina Romay, whauza!

And now we come to the classic, Father of the Bride! The story is as easy as it gets: a girl gets married and her papa is not than thrilled! Less well known than it’s illustrious remake (anybody who grew up during the 1990s watched this movie dozens of times!), it’s a really good film with Spencer Tracy playing the gruff father and Liz Taylor playing the headstrong daughter. A dynamic mix for sure, and Joan Bennett is wonderful as the mother pitted in the middle. In a really nice easter egg moment, Erin appeared in the sequel, Father’s Little Dividend!

Erin appeared in another Robert Walker movie, The Skipper Surprised His Wife. Bob plays a skipper whose wife, Joan Leslie, breaks her leg so he has to take care of the house. This one is a charming, easy to watch and enjoyable, just don’t look for anything too deep! Watch the Birdie, in which Red Skelton plays a reporter trying to shield a heiress from money grubbers, is another nifty comedy with some good routines in Skelon’s very recognizable vein. Then we have Three Guys Named Mike, also a highly charming, light and nice comedy, just this time Jane Wyman has to choose between three Mikes (how confusing, poor girl). Erin’s last comedy and overall movie was The Tender Trap, a funny Frank Sinatra/Debbie Reynolds movie, and a interesting deconstruction of the womanizer trope. Betcha you didn’t expect this from a comedy! It’s all done in a gentle and tender manner, to be pecise, and Frankie is always watchable!

That was it from Erin!

PRIVATE LIFE

Erin was a beautiful Irish colleen and played, in one of her movies, a nurse in a doctor’s office – the script described her, through one of the characters, as “so beautiful that if men patients don’t look twice at her the doctor knows they are really sick.” Very flattering if I have to say!

Erin lived with her mom in Hollywood, and was a kinaestetics enthusiast. She endorsed these three nifty exercises in the papers, and they really seem good:

Erin O’Kelly, appearing in Zeigfeld Follies, has three favorite hip conditioning exercises. Do these daily for one month and your hips will be slimmed considerably. Exercise 1. Lie on your back with arms at shoulder level. Pull right knee back to chest and swing it across body, straighten leg. Repeat ten times. Then swing left leg across body.. Exercise 2. Lie on right side, grasping the leg of a heavy chair with right hand. Place left in front of body for balance. Pull both knees back to chest, straighten legs and then swing both down to starting position. Repeat five times; turn .over and repeat five times. You must do this swiftly and accurately feeling pressure on your hips. This also firms your midriff. Exercise 3. (This flattens your buttocks as well as hips). over carefully two or three times before attempting lt..Unless it is done correctly, you will not benefit from it. Lie flat on the floor, Raise your hips off the floor and swing them far to the right, then let weight of body fall on left buttock as you spank it down on the floor. Spank it three times hard. Then swing far to left and spank right buttock hard three times. Are your hips in shape? You need not put up with flabby pads in that region.

Little was known of her love life. Erin was so low key that until she decided to get married, nothing was written about her! Anyway, to get straight to the point, Erin was one of the many war-time brides of Hollywood – she married Russell Martin Selwyn in Grand Hall, Nebraska, on January 15, 1944, just before he was dispatched to fight in the European Theater of WW2.

Early months of their marriage, in 1944, were very much tense and uneasy. Erin never knew exactly where her husband was and what was happening with him. He would occasionally write, so both Erin ad the scribes of Hollywood were kept abreast of the situation. Thus, they knew when he made his fifth bombing trip over Germany and that he would received the Distinguished Flying Cross for flying and that he had been promoted from lieutenant to captain. Next Erinwas informed he is soon to return to his country from his base (after he has been overseas for eight months). In the end he came back to Erin just in time for her birthday in September, by which time the war was mostly over in Europe.

Now a bit about Selwyn. Russell Martin Selwyn was born Russell Martin Snyder on November, 5, 1919, to Ruth Wilcox and Martin Russell Snyder.  His mother was an actress and an overall incredibly interesting woman (I plan to profile her too!). His parents divorced and in 1924 Ruth married Edgar Selwyn, theater director and playwright who owned a chain of theaters and  helped found Goldwyn studios. Since his mother’s remarriage, Rusty became a scion of a movie centered family, one of the so called “MGM Kids” (children of highly positioned MGM functionaries) in the late 1930s. Ruth’s sister Pansy married Nicholas Schenck, making him the first cousin of the future Niki Dantine. Russell was a cadet at a military school, and liked bowling a great deal. He started dating Ann Savage, the alluring film noir actress who mostly did B movies. Ann went along swimmingly with his family and it seemed that they were on a solid path to matrimony. Then, WW2 started, Rusty had entered the military and transferred to Washington, D.C. for additional training. Unfortunately his affair with Ann ended after it was clear they were too far away, him in military school, she in Hollywood. Not long after he met Erin, and the rest is history as they say!

The Selwyns settled in Los Angeles, close enough to the movie colony although neither were actively involved in it. Rusty only did some editing work for one movie in 1955, and Erin was long retired by then. Their daughter Loretta Virginia was born on January 19, 1956, son Lloyd Selwyn on January 14, 1958 and another daughter Alicia was born in 1959.

Erin Loretta Selwyn died on August 26, 1997, in Los Angeles, California.

Her widower Russell Martin Selwyn died on October 14, 2005, in Los Angeles, California.

Cynthia Westlake

Cynthia Wastlake was, at first glance, a typical chorus girl of the 1930s – pretty, bouncy, talented but with no real dramatic training, with odds stacked against her in the path to the stars. It took a deeper look and a new side of Cynthia is revealed – she was a budding writer who tried to write a book and make a slightly different impact. She traded all her career aspirations for marriage in the end. let’s learn more about her.

EARLY LIFE

Cynthia Coralie Westlake was born on August 11, 1916, in Los Angeles, California, to Tom Miller Westlake and Camille Hiltabidle. Her father was a professional soldier working for the US army. He enlisted in 1898, when he was 18 years old. There is a bit of a confusion about Tom, as I found a page that clams that he was married once before, to Inez Barnes, and had a son, Richmond Earle, born in 1917. He divorced Inez and married Camille in 1919 in Kingman, Arizona, but since Cynthia was born in 1916 this doesn’t make much sense! Anyway, Cynthia’s younger brother Earle was born in 1920.

Growing up in Los Angeles when the movie industry was in it’s nascent stages was probably very stimulating and Cynthia had a natural knack for singing and dancing. Her first brush with the movie world was at age 3, and it would be quite important for her future career. Namely, noted dance director Joseph Santley saw her dancing and promised her parents that he would help her if she chose showbiz as a vocation one day.

Sadly, the family had other concerns than Cynthia’s dancing career, as her father was pensioned in 1922 and died on May 31, 1926. Being a widow with two small children was never easy, and Camille’s sister Dorothy came to live with them and help. Camille raised Cynthia and Earl in Los Angeles, where she owned and operated a beauty shop. Cynthia in the end did decide to make showbiz her vocation, and she entered movies in 1937.

CAREER

Cynthia appeared in eight movies during her brief career, always uncredited. She allegedly had a bit part in A Star Is Born, a total classic and the original that was remake so many times since. We all know the story, but it’s not about the story, it’s about the emotions and the superb acting. I love Frederic March, and he’s tops here, so what more do you need? Janet Gaynor is very fine, although I do prefer Judy in the role in a later remake. Next up was Meet the Missus, a charming comedy. There is even a character named Mrs. North-West 🙂 Cynthia appeared as one of the many nameless showgirls in New Faces of 1937, and like most movies with the year in the name, it’s stick thin in terms of plot but plenty of music and dancing. Cynthia than appeared in two mediocre movies and two absolute gems.

The two mediocre movies were: A Damsel in Distress and Night Spot. Damsel wads based on a Wodehouse novel, and you can summaries it’s a comedy of manners like most of his work, and it marked Joan Fontaine’s acting debut – she’s the thin link here, as a genteel English lady, but we have Fred Astaire, George Burns and Gracie Allen to compensate. It’s a fluffy, frilly, light entertainment and it works on many levels, but just don’t expect too much! Night spot is  a low budget comedy-mystery where Joan Woodbury gives an honest alibi for nightclub owner Bradley Page, and the police officer, played by Alan Lane, is trying to break her story. Like many classical movies it’s worth watching for the supporting cast alone – Jack Carson and Lee Patrick among others! Sweet!

The two gems that Cynthia appeared in were Stage Door and Bringing Up Baby, both from Katherine Hepburn early RKO career, perhaps her best movie period overall (although this is open for debate! While Stage Door is a straight drama and very woman centered (huge like for that), baby is considered one of the best screwball comedies ever made, so viola! Sadly, RKO sacked Cynthia not long after, and she took a hiatus from Tinsel Town.

Cynthia’s only movie after her return to Hollywood was Blossoms in the Dust, one of the string of top notch movies Greer Garson made in the early 1940s. The story shows us the life of Edna Gladney (a real figure) who opposes the unfair laws discriminating against children whose parents are unknown, and opens an orphanage for those children. This one is  areal tear jerker, with more than a touch of soap opera but done with the polished finesse of MGM and given even more flair because of Greer’s incredibly warm, engaging performance. Greer is paired with her stalwart constant acting companion, Walter Pidgeon, and has a first class supporting cast: Marsha Hunt, Fay Holden, Felix Bressart . Now this is a good classical movie drama and definitely worth watching!

That was it from Cynthia!

PRIVATE LIFE

Since this is a cute story (eve if it’s not true), I will repeat the Joseph Stanley bit from I mentioned in her early life. This article made the papers when Cynthia started her career:

A film .director who kept a promise he made when she was 3 years old launched 19-year-old’ Cynthia Westlake in the movies, today. The director, Joseph Santley, when a musical comedy star here 16 years ago, watched a tiny girl, dancer perform and promised her. parents he would help her if the opportunity ever came. Santley was casting the film “Missus America” at RKO-Radio’ when Miss Westlake, now grown to a pretty young dancer, introduced herself and held him to his promise. She was cast in a small”, role for the picture

And now for her love life! Cynthia dated director Edward “Eddie” Ludwig for a few months in 1938, and was pretty serious about him. Russian born Ludwig was 17 years older than Cynthia, a seasoned director with a craftsman approach to movie making (he made more than 100 movies in his long career, both silent and sound features, both for theatrical releases and TV). The press were sure they would get married, but for some unknown reasons, they broke up by 1939.

Trouble for brewing for Cynthia by that time. The war had started, and the studios started to cut off actors, often using dubious techniques. For instance, if a studio has a choice of ten actors for a single role it can bargain nine of them out of the way and get the tenth pretty cheap. RKO, for example, had a large contract list, and was slicing it’s contract rolls. Ida Vollmar and Cynthia were early deportees, Walter Abel followed soon after, then RKOs cut at least a dozen players. So, Cynthia was effectively without a job in the ultra competitive Tinsel Town atmosphere.

Broken up with Ludwig and possibly disillusioned by her fledgling career, Cynthia decided to do a highly romantic and unusual gesture, spend a year of living alone aboard a yacht anchored off Catalina island. It was a move precipitated by her wish to take the time out to write a book which she hoped would be a best seller and a vehicle for the screen in which she can climb to stellar holes. “The Girl Who Lost Herself” was the title of the novel, and it seems that it was written but never published.

In early 1940, Cynthia returned to Los Angeles and to movies, and met and started to date  Rudolf Ising, M.-G.-M. cartooner. The romance became serious soon, with the papers calling them “a two-alarm blaze.” They married on August 16, 1941, in Los Angeles.

Rudolph Carl Ising was born on August 7, 1903, in Kansas City, Missouri, to Henry (Heinrich) Ising and Mary Holtzschneider, one of nine children (his siblings were Elizabeth, Martha, Mary, Adele, Richard, Henry, Bruno and Herman). His father was a German-born street laborer who tried to do farm work in the US, first in Oklahoma then in Kansas, ultimately settling as a beer truck driver in Kansas City. Rudolph’s mother died in 1905, not long after giving birth to her 9th child, and Henry mostly raised the children singlehandedly. While he was still in grade school, Rudy got a job at a local portrait company, first working as a printer than as a photographer. In 1922 he was an ad for becoming a cartoonist with Walt Disney and applied, very much enamored with the concept of cartoons. Then his career took of. Here is some information from his New York Times obituary:

Mr. Ising was working at a photograph-finishing laboratory when he was hired by Mr. Disney, who advertised in a local newspaper for a cartoonist when he was starting out in the early 1920’s in Kansas City, Mo. Mr. Ising helped to ink the drawings in the first animated Disney films, the “Newton Laugh-o-Grams.”

The operation moved to California, and Mr. Ising followed. But soon he and another Disney employee, Hugh Harman, broke away to create their own cartoons. Synchronizing Dialogue and Action

Their initial production, “Bosko the Talk-Ink Kid,” in 1929, was a breakthrough as the first talkie cartoon, synchronizing dialogue on the soundtrack with the action on screen. Disney’s earlier “Steamboat Willie” had music and sound effects but no dialogue.

The Bosko cartoon was also notable for its sign off, “That’s all, folks,” which became Porky Pig’s stammered trademark.

In 1930, the two men were hired by Warner Brothers, for which they devised the “Looney Tunes” label, a takeoff on Disney’s “Silly Symphonies” series.

In 1934, they joined Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, where they created Barney Bear, the ancestor of Yogi Bear. The inspiration for the lethargic Barney came from Mr. Ising’s habit of dozing off in staff meetings.

While Mr. Harman specialized in “Looney Tunes,” Mr. Ising developed “Merrie Melodies,” which emphasized the musical element. His strength was in writing and producing rather than illustrating.

Both cartoon series became staples of the nation’s movie-theater programs. Winning an Academy Award

In 1940, Mr. Ising’s “Milky Way,” a cartoon about three kittens, won an Academy Award, the first non-Disney cartoon to capture an Oscar. Mr. Ising was also honored in 1976 by the International Animation Society.

In World War II, he worked on training films as the head of the animation division for the Army Air Forces movie unit. After the war, he worked on commercials and television projects and retired in the 1970’s.

Cynthia retired from movies to dedicate herself to family life. Their son Rudolph Carl Ising was born on April 1, 1952. Rudolph ditched animation for working in ad agency. The family lived in California, and Rudolf and Cynthia ultimately settled in Newport Beach.

Rudolph Ising died on July 18, 1992. Cynthia did not remarry and went to live in Corona Del Mar.

Cynthia Westlake Ising died on November 25, 1997, in Corona Del Mar.