Neila Hart

Pert and pretty, Neila Hart was the sister of the famous actor Bob Sterling, but didn’t have quite the same luck in Hollywood as her older sibling. She got some publicity due to the familial connection but ultimately sliding into obscurity. Let’s learn more about her!

EARLY LIFE

Nellie Holmes Hart was born on August 22, 1921, in New Castle, Pennsylvania, to Walter K. Hart and Vera Holmes. She was the youngest of three children, her older brother was William Sterling, born on November 13, 1917, and her older sister Helen, born in 1919. Her father was manager of Sylvan Heights golf course. In his younger days, he was prominent in athletics and played professional baseball, where he attained success as a catcher.

Neila grew up in New Castle and was a very athletic child with great flexibility. In 1937 Walter’s health became impaired and the whole family went to California to reside with Robert, who was by then then beginning his success as a film actor. Neila finished her education in Los Angeles and graduated from high school, After graduation, she started to work as 5-and-10-cent-store girl, secretly dreaming of becoming an actress, patterning herself after her brother. She was finally noticed when her Robert was in the Army Air Corps. She was signed by Columbia Studios and her career started.

CAREER

Neila appeared in only three movies in a span of few years. Are You with It? was her first Hollywood movie, a pleasant affair with a carnival background story. Originally a Broadway play that was watered down for Hollywood in a form of a low budget musical. Those type of movies were always the same – a non-existing (sometimes even absurd) story, some song and dance numbers (mostly not from top line composers), but usually the leading lady/man fill out all the holes with their presence. here was have Donald O’Connor, a man of immense dancing talent and modest but lovable charm, and Olga San Juan, a petite but fiery senorita who could set aflame blocks of ice.

Since You Went Away is the most recognizable movie that Neil appeared in. It’s the classic family-in-wartime film. The brain child of David Selznick, it is best known today for its august cast – Claudette Colbert, Jennifer Jones, Shirley Temple, Robert Walker, Joseph Cotten, Monty Wooley and so on. Showing the daily life of families left behind during WW2, it’s sincere, well acted and written – if it is a bit syrupy on the edges, remember that it was made during the war, and people needed their Mrs. Minivers and other light-beats-the-dark characters very, very much. This is classic Hollywood at it’s best – it’s not a superbly inspired, artistic movie, but it’s perfectly made for the source material and does it’s job more than admirably.

Neila’s last movie was Good Luck, Mr. Yates, a so-so wartime movie, with a overtly dramatic story-line about a Military Academy instructor who is 4-F and thus loses the respect of his students. He quits to join up but ends up working in a shipyard and tried to redeem himself. The cast is mediocre, with the generally uninteresting Jesse Barker in the lead and Tom Neal always playing the same hoodlum. Claire Trevor and Edgar Buchanan fare a bit better, but not by much.  Overall a forgettable movie.

And that’s it from Neila!

PRIVATE LIFE

Neila changed her first name from Nellie “because everyone told me Nellie sounded too much like a horse.” I like Nellie, it’s such a innocent, cute name, but okay, whatever Jan. As the new girl on the block, Neila was feted and beaued by a number of Hollywood personalities. For a time she was seen with Van Johnson at the Somerset house and with Tom Neal at the Mocambo.

After her Hollywood career failed lightning fast, Neila decided to stay in the Hollywood circuit and became a publicity woman with the Alan Gordon Agency. She also started dating Steven Crane, former husband of Lana Turner. Steven was, at the time, looking for a house to rent with a nursery for his and Lana’s daughter Cheryl, and it seems that such a set up was not very constructive to his relationship with Neila, so they broke up not long after.

In 1944, while Neila was in the hospital recovering from an appendectomy, her father died. Neila and Bob received the whole of Hollywood’s sympathy on his death, in a testament of how well liked the brother and sister were in Tinsel Town. Then, to the surprise of almost everyone, Neila married Maj. Dick Benjamin. Richard Benjamin was born in Beatrice, Nebraska, the son of Mr. and Mrs. D. E. Benjamin. His father was a staff photographer with the Sun-Telegraph. He grew up in Beatrice, and attended Fairfax High School. He served with the air corps during WW2, and  had seen plenty of action in New Guinea and Burma. He was Jackie Coogan’s commanding officer, and this is how he came to the attention of various Hollywood glitterati. He dated songstress Helen Forrest before meeting Neila.

In March 1945, Dick was shot down over Germany and spent two months in a German prison camp, and was later sent home on a furlough. He had to scrape for the money, too, because his back army pay hasn’t come through yet. Neila quit Hollywood for a time to devote herself to family life, but the marriage was over by 1948. She came roaring back to the dating scene, and was seen with Bruce Cabot at the Tallyho. A few short months later, in 1949, she secretly married in Tijuana a certain Rocky Mario, night club entertainer. Mario also worked as an Arthur Murray dance instructor.

This marriage also did not last long, and they were divorced by the mid 1950s. Neila married her third husband, Edward Cass, in the late 1950s. Their daughter Carla Helen was born on August 20, 1961. The Cass marriage also disintegrated sometime in the early 1980s.

After the divorce, Neila moved to Atmore, Alabama and lived there and in Mobile, Alabama, for the remainder of the life.

Nellie Holmes Hart died in 2003. Sadly, her daughter Carla Cass died on January 14, 2011.

 

Patricia Farley

Hollywood always asked their actresses to be very thin, sometimes at great prices. Patricia Farley is a great example of a girl who wasn’t really fat but was nudged by studio brass to lose weight very quickly – this type of yo-yo dieting this is never a good idea. She managed to lose the weight at a large cost, as she became sick and almost died later. Luckily she got out of the rat race and lived happily in California. Let’s hear more about her.

EARLY LIFE

Zedna May Farley was born on September 27, 1914, in Toronto, Canada, to Harry Farley and Betsy Morgan. Her older sister Minnie was born in 1913. Her father was a draftsman (drafting technician makes detailed technical drawings or plans for machinery) for a telephone company. The family moved to California in in 1919, and Zedna grew up in Pasadena, where she attended high school.

Since she was a beautiful girl not adverse to public appearances, Zedna participated in a number of beauty pageants and talent contests while in high school. In 1928, she was one of the Court of the Queens of the Valencia Orange Show–the “Queens” were future starlets Mona Rico and Dorothy Day.

Zedna won A “Miss Canada” title (to be clear, this was a contest held by the Southern California Canadian Society, she was not a Miss Canada in the full sense, chosen in Canada) later, in 1929. In 1930, she ran away from home to get married at only 16 years old. She soon realized her mistake and going to Reno was the result. She liked the city and decided to stay there working as hostess and later as entertainer In a night club, where she began to put on weight.

Patricia moved to new York not long after and she was employed for a time by a New York club. She won the notice of Paramount studio officials because of the way she exchanged flip repartee with Mae West while playing the tiny role of a hat check girl in “Night After Night,”. But it wasn’t an easy road – an observing pair of eyes in Paramount’s New York office, however, took more than passing note of Patty. Certain photographs, “stills” from the production, were brought out, the one of that particular scene was produced, and an informal council of New York advertising men agreed that Patricia was a good screen prospect. This opinion was wired to Hollywood, along with the suggestion that studio executives give the girl further opportunity. In the end, she was awarded a contract. And off she went!

CAREER

Pat m,ade a few comedic shorts in 1932, and her first movie was the Mae West Night After Night – quite a successful concoction of delightful ingredients – George Raft, Mae West and Constance Cummings, with gangsters, drama and comedy! It’s an interesting movie definitely worth watching! Pat’s second movie was the Tarzan rip-off, King of the Jungle, with Buster Crabbe in the lead. Crabbe was actually an okay actor who doesn’t get the credit he deserves, and his movies are mostly very much watchable, including this one.

Then came the George Raft/Sylvia Sidney movie, Pick-up. Sidney was, as one reviewer perfectly wrote, “princess of gloomy tragedy” and she works this movie like a charm. Pat than made tow low budget westerns, Under the Tonto Rim and Sunset Pass, and as you know I never write about such movie so skip.

Patricia rounded of 1933 with perhaps the weirdest movie she has made, Narcotic. How to sum it up? Here is a great review from IMDB: “While not as over-the-top as Dwain Esper’s MANIAC or as professionally made as his MARIJUANA: WEED WITH ROOTS IN HELL, NARCOTIC is a unique film experience. It has a jumpy, elliptical style–sometimes the next scene may be a few days after the prior scene, sometimes a few months or even years. Add to this the use of stock footage from silent films (in the first half) and stock footage of animals killing each other (in the last third).Also, the script mixes philosophy with medical jargon with drug slang with hard-boiled dialogue. And Esper’s preference for odd, off-putting camera angles and introducing characters by showing their shadow.The whole thing, in under one hour, has a grimy feel to it.” An unusual movie experience, that’s for sure!

Pat appeared in three movies in 1933. All of Me, a so-so PreCode drama where Miriam Hopkins, in the leading role as a spoiled heiress, is the least interesting part of the movie, and the laurels go to George Raft as a ex con who can’t get a steady job to support his pregnant girlfriend. We also have Frederic March, but he’s almost not quite interesting. Good Dame was a movie in a similar vein, a so-so movie with some strange stuff in it. We again have Frederic March, but this time he plays a con-artist thug and speaks in a weird accent that’s totally unbelievable, and Sylvia Sidney, as the girl who believes she can reform him. You see where this plot is going? Yep, you guessed it! And since this is Sylvia Sidney we are talking about, you know it’s not gonna end well. Pat’s last movie is 1934 was the best one, the witty, sparkling comedy The Merry Widow, with Jeanette MacDonald and Maurice Chevalier. Now this one is worth watching!

In 1935, Patricia started strong in Naughty Marietta, the first of the famous Jeanette MacDonald /Nelson Eddy pairings, and a charming, fluffy movie to boot! Classic Hollywood at it’s best, what can I say! Another minor classic was Diamond Jim, The story of legendary gambler Diamond Jim Brady and his romance with entertainer Lillian Russell, with Edward Arnold and Jean Arthur in the leads and Jean doesn’t even play Lillian, Binnie Barnes plays her!). Pat then appeared in a minor classic, Barbary Coast, with the grand team of Miriam Hopkins, Edward G. Robinson and Joel McCrea. Pat’s last movie was the charming whodunit Grand Exit, about tracking down an arsonist, with Edmund Lowe and Ann Sothern.

That was it from Patricia!

PRIVATE LIFE

Patricia was known in Hollywood as the gal who looked like Gloria Swanson. I can see a slight resemblance, but not that much I have to say. Patricia married her first husband,  Thomas B. Hearn, on November 3, 1930, when she was just 16 years old. Thomas Baker Hearn was born on September 21, 1907, in Connecticut/Rhode Island to William Hearn and Margaret baker. He was an electrician by trade. The marriage lasted only a short time, ending in June 1932 (and Patricia went to Reno and the rest is history!). On August 21, 1937, Thomas married Marylynn Ruth Titus. He died on may 27, 1962 in Los Angeles.

When Patricia landed in Hollywood, movie scouts told her she was overweight and would have to reduce. A contract was written, contingent on her weight at the end of one month. She dieted, exercised, submitted to pounding and twisting on the massage tables and took off 15 pounds in 30 days. It was considered a record, even In the movie colony. So she got the Job. Here are bits and pieces from her journey:

Fruit juices and .on small salad these Items make up three meals a day for Patricia Farley, eighteen, who believes a movie contract Is worth heroic dieting. ‘ Patricia, Canadian-born Pasadena girl whose beauty attracted attention on a mpvl set where sh wa working as an extra, has won bar contract by taking off fifteen pounds In thirty days, and sh Is still dieting and reducing, not to cease until she ha regained her normal weight of 118. ‘I weighed 145 pounds that day they first noticed me,” sh says, “I weighed 130 the day I signed the promised contract. Today I weigh. By a strict -liquid diet composed mainly, of fruit Juice anal supplemented by water she pulled down from 145 and she say shell maintain the rigorous scheduled diet til she reaches 115 pound. 125 and am losing pounds at the rate, of four a wek!”

“I’m not afraid my diet will hurt me, even though it Is rather stringent and it might not be good for others,” sh says. For breakfast she ha orange Juice, for lunch more of the same and the salad, and for dinner Just orange juice. , Coffee sh takes cream-less and sugarless. But diet Is only a small part of her reducing program; Exercise does the rest. This is what she did: Thirty minute of rope-Jumping, bicycling, rowing and bending exercises, ten minutes In the electronic vibrator, fifteen minutes in a steam bath, five minutes in hot and cold shower, thirty minutes of massage.

“I didn’t mind it a bit,” she said “The first two or three days the most difficult. I was not accustomed to so much exercise i my muscles became stiffened i sore. The diet didn’t bother m. all, for actually my menu was reasonable and adequate. I now convinced that the average woman eats far too much food today. Exercise is very important in reducing, and, in my case found it well to avoid too much sleep. Inactivity adds pounds, of course, adequate rest is essential.” Patricia Farley, weighing around 118 pounds, seems destined for a very happy and fortunate H wood career.

I don’t know what to say about this story – it’s heartbreaking and sad. This healthy young woman had to undergo extreme dieting conditions to be given a contract – while she did have a choice to just let it all go and give up Hollywood, we are well aware that she, in real life where stuff are grey and not black and white, was more or less pushed into it. And you think this just flows by without any serious damage to the person doing it? Not a chance, and it was pretty obvious that something was going to pop, sooner or later.

And that something came just a few short years later. Patricia was seriously ill with pneumonia for a few weeks in 1935. Several days before she was Injured in an automobile accident. In convalescence she took pneumonia. It was very much close to the edge for a time, and nobody knew for sure she would make it. The moral of the story: don’t do yoyo dieting. It truly doesn’t’ pay and get back at the user tenfold. Being slim/fit/not fat is a long and rhythmical process where a person must change her whole set of habits to integrate balance into his or her lifestyle. Otherwise it just wont’ yell. To some people it’s easier, to some it’s more difficult, but it’s always the same method (finding a middle road), just with a million different ways of achieving the goal.

Patricia’s illness changes her life drastically. She gave up Hollywood, and started playing a guitar at evangelistic services. Patricia married for the second time to Reuben B. Deweerd on March 9, 1938, long after she left Hollywood. Reuben was born on May 22, 1913 in Holland, Michigan, to Bert Deweerd and Sadie Waterman, the oldest of four children. His mother died in 1921 while giving birth to his youngest sister, Sadie. He moved to Los Angeles in the 1930s and became a professional cook. Sadly, this marriage did not last and they divorced in about 1940. Reuben later returned to Holland, Michigan, remarried to a local, Ruby Helena Weighmink, and died there in 1984.

Patricia married her third husband, Larry Morey, on March 7, 1942. Here is a short bio of Larry from IMDB;:

American lyricist and author Lawrence L. ‘Larry’ Morey was chiefly noted for co-writing (with the composer and songwriter Frank Churchill) the musical numbers for Disney’s Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937), including “Heigh-Ho”, “I’m Wishing” and “Whistle While You Work”. He also worked on the picture as a sequence director. His second claim to fame was adapting Felix Salten‘s 1923 book, “Bambi, a Life in the Woods”, for the screen (as well as co-writing the score with Churchill). Assisted by Perce Pearce, he is further credited with devising the characters of Thumper the rabbit and Flower the skunk, primarily to lighten the mood of the picture. One of the musical numbers from Bambi (1942), “Love is a Song”, was nominated for an Oscar, as was “Lavender Blue” (sung by Burl Ives) for So Dear to My Heart (1948). This piece was adapted from a popular folk song.

Morey worked for Disney from 1933, following stints at Paramount and Warners. He joined ASCAP in 1938.

It seems that third time was the charm for Patricia, as she hit the marital jackpot. The Moreys lived happily in Los Angeles until Larry’s death on May 8, 1971.

Patricia married Jack Winnett on 24 January 1973. Jack J. Winnett was born on may 2, 1917, in Los Angeles, to . He worked as an order clerk for a sporting goods wholesale store. The couple separated and divorced in 1977 and it was made final in 1979. Jack died on April 24, 1981.

Patricia married for the fifth and final time to Joe Paysnick on May 23, 1984. Saul Joseph Paysnick was born on December 14, 1922, in Massachusetts, to Abraham Paysnick and Rose Bore. He served in the US army during WW2 and continued working for the army after the war ended. He married Mavis Pauline Neibs on 26 Nov 1947 but they divorced in the 1950s. IMDB claims that Joe and Patricia divorced, but I couldn’t find any proof so let’s assume they remained married.

Zedna died on July 25, 2001, in California. Her widower Joe Paysnick died on February 17, 2007.

Audrey Conti

Audrey Conti is a great example of how Cinderella stories cannot really be taken for granted. A  normal Mid Western girl who was courted by powerful movie scouts due to her beauty and charisma, it seemed that she was on her way to the starts after she was signed by a studio. Not! Nobody knew what to do with her, and after wasting away, she did some TV work and retired after a really short time as an actress.

EARLY LIFE

Audrey Conti was born on January 31, 1933, in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, to Rudolph and Sophia Conti. Her older brother Eugene was born in 1932. Her father was from France/Italy, her mother from Poland. Her father was a boiler operator at a local electric power plant.

Audrey grew up in St. Francis (A small town in the Milwaukee county), and showed no signs of wanting to become an actress. She graduated from high school and took up a job ads a Pabst Brewery Tour Guide. She worked as a tour guide for a few years when she appeared on the CBS Game Show “What’s My Line?” in March of 1954. She made such an impression that she was swamped by calls from the program’s fans. A studio scout visiting Manhattan noticed her and she was signed pronto. Unfortunately, she spend time in the studio not really doing anything, just going from one photo shot to the next, but then she was finally put into movies. And her career started!

CAREER

Audrey appeared in six movies and a small number of TV shows. Her first movie was The Birds and the Bees, a sub-par remake of the wonderful comedy, The Lady Eve. Yep, some movie just can’t be remade, and Lady Eve is certainly one of them. While Mitzi Gaynor is even good enough in the Babs Stanwyack role, George Gobel is not up to the task in the Henry Fonda role. Godel’s comedy is a very acquired taste and doesn’t really work here, but it still boils down to personal preference so quite  afew people actually like this version more than the original.

Her second movie was Ten Thousand Bedrooms, a peculiar Dena Martin musical where he has to marry of three older sisters before he can marry the youngest one. Today the movie has a bad rep, mostly thanks to the fact that this was Martins’ first solo effort after his series of movies with Jerry Lewis, and it was a dismal failure that almost ended his career. While the movie is not bottom of the barrel bad, it’s not particularly god either – Dean plays a role much better suited for Cary Grant (suave older tycoon), and the story is somehow silly and paper-thin. Good points are the gorgeous location filming in Rome and a solid supporting cast Walter Slezak is especially good as the girls’ father!

Then came Spook Chasers, a Bowery boys movie. Short description from IMDB: The Bowery Boys must battle crooks when a real estate agent sells their friend Mike (Percy Helton) a rundown piece of land. The group end up finding money there, which draws the attention of a couple gangsters who plan on making the boys think the house is haunted so that they’ll leave. Moronic story but good enough for Bowery boys fans, otherwise don’t bother.

Invasion of the Saucer Men is a teen-horror camp movie deluxxe. The plot is really uninspired (A teenage couple accidentally awakens an alien after hitting it with their car.), the costumes are quite amateurish and the actors are a mixed bag (some good support). It’s not even a top campy movie, but it does have it’s moments, and recommended fo rthe fans of 1950s teen over-the-top movies.

Audrey’s last two movies were her best known. The Joker Is Wild is a above average biopic, with Frank Sinatra playing the Roaring 20’s icon, Joe E. Lewis. Sinatra excels at playing bitter men with serious vices, and Lewis is a great showcase for his talents. The movie doesn’t shy away from less savory aspect’s of Lewis’ life, and is not your typical saccharine 50s biopic. Jeanne Crain and Mitzi Gaynor are able female support, as well as Eddie Albert and Jackie Coogan.

Audrey’s last movie was The Naked and the Dead, a lukewarm adaptation of the Normal Mailer novel. The movie is sadly a typical 1950s Hollywood product, too sanitized and banalized to have an impact (even if it is directed by the great Raoul Walsh!). Instead of a nuances portrayal of a group of WW2 soldiers, we get the good vs. bad soldiers story, the one we have seen a thousand times before.

And that’s it from Audrey!

PRIVATE LIFE

As she had literary no acting experience, Audrey had to learn from scratch when she landed in Hollywood, and dedicated a great deal of her free time to acting, singing and dancing lessons. Believe it or not, Audrey was quite popular back then (in a niche kind of a way), as she got thousands of letters due to her What’s Your line appearance. She diligently answered each and every letter, no matter how long it took (and it took years for it to die down).

As I already mentioned it, Audrey is a great example of how getting discovered by Hollywood was literary just the first 20% of the process. While not a small feast and it doesn’t’ happen to everybody (a  great deal of actresses were not discovered but had to actively work for Hollywood to notice them), it is by no means a sure sign that you are going to make it. I watched Audrey’s what’s my line episode, and I have to say I just don’t see it. While she is a cute, good looking girl, she’s not really charismatic and didn’t’ tickle my fancy one bit. Guess Hollywood scouts noticed this after she came to Tinsel Town. In a town where thousands of new comers appear every week, you need something to single you out, to make you jump form the crowd, and looks almost always are not enough.

With no prospects on the horizon, that was more or less it for Audrey. After some lackluster TV roles, she gave up acting, but I have no idea what she did for a living. Audrey married Gary Clarence Steenlock  in the late 1960s. Gary was born on 14 Jul 1940, in Minnesota, to Clarence Steenblock and Goldie Lokach. He really wanted to go to college, and even sold his prized car to get tuition money. Later, in 1964, he served in the US Marines, reaching the rank of lieutenant. On December 30, 1963 he married Judith F Green, but they divorced a few years later.

The couple went to live Olmstead, Minnesota. Sadly, Gary died on August 30, 1971.

After Gary’s death Audrey returned to live in Milwaukee, and maintained close ties to her brother, Eugene. Eugene died in 2019. Audrey also owned a dog, a schnauzer, who died in 2009.

As far as I know, Audrey still lives in the Milwaukee region.

Ellye Marshall

Ellye Marshall was a well endowed, sexy peroxide blonde who was quite a looker but not really a trained actress. When the time came for her to make moves to differentiate herself from tons of similarly endowed bombshells and make a solid career out of being a luscious starlet, she chose the dumb blonde routine. It sadly backfired on her, and her career was over after just a few short years.

EARLY LIFE

Eleanor Louise Marvak was born in 1928 in Brooklyn, New York City, New York, to Umberto Marvak and Rosella Celik. Her younger brother Bernard was born in 1931. Her father, an auto mechanic by trade, was born in Italy (then under the Austro-Hungarian empire), and came to the US in 1925. Her mother was born in Germany and her mother’s younger sister, Christina, was living with them when Eleanor was born.

The family moved to Mount Pleasant Town, Westchester, New York in the mid 1930s, and then to Danbury, Connecticut, sometime after 1940, where Eleanor attended high school. Pretty and a good dancer, Eleanor dreamed of a career in showbiz. As soon as she graduated in 1946, she was of to New York to become a chorus girl. Slowly she climbed up the ladder of success, appearing in all sorts of plays, like Ken Murrays Broadway revue, Blackouts, and was called to be an understudy for comedienne Marie Wilson. And this is how her career started!

CAREER

Ellye appeared in only five movies. her first one,Champagne for Caesar, is arguably her most famous – a bubbly, sophisticated, nicely made comedy with the even suave Ronald Colman playing an eccentric genius who, in order to get even with the pompous president of a soap company, goes on his quiz show in order to bankrupt his company. Strong support comes from veteran classic Vincent Price , Celeste Holm, Art Linkletter, Barbara Britton and even Ellye has a credited role (she plays Frosty). Classic Hollywood comedy at it’s best, a definite recommendation!

Then came sub par Second Chance, a Christian protestant propaganda movie with Ruth Warrick playing a terminally ill woman who changes her life completely as she understands she got alienated from her church and God, but it’s not too late to change that. The movie is very heavy handed with it’s message and can be bothersome to most people not in that state of mind. While solidly made and with okay performance,s it’s definitely not something especially noteworthy. Then came Rogue River, an unusual movie as the story unravels very effectively via flashback, as Peter Graves in the lead journeys by boat down the treacherous Rogue River. The axis of the movie is the relationship between Graves and Rory Calhoun, who plays his brother. Ellye plays the love interested, but is sadly overshadowed by the brotherly camaraderie and carries very little weight in the movie.

Ellye than appeared in campy deluxxe Cat-Women of the Moon, playing one of the cat women. Just go and watch the trailer and you’s understand what it’s all about. It’s truly really campy, and a true feast for those who enjoy such stuff. The costumes, the set design, the acting, it’s all so deliciously over-the-top-campy that you cannot but like the overall package! Plus nice to see some 1940s classic movie stars a bit past their prime (Marie Windsor, Sonny Tufts, Victor Jory).

Ellye’s last was The French Line . This movie can either be a total winner or a total loser, depends on what are you looking for. It you want some mindless fun with interesting costumes and passable musical numbers, go for it! If you want a coherent story, great characters and some depth, avoid like the plague. It’s fun, it’s breezy, it’s easy on the eyes and that’s it. Cm-on, the story itself is hardcore “paper thin plots” we can see in so many 1950s musicals – when her fiance leaves her, an oil heiress (played by Jane Russell) takes a cruise incognito in order to find a man who will love her for herself and not for her money. Anyone with half a brain can see that this has no semblance of reality – but who cares, if it’s an excuse to see Russell in a variety of racy costumes (along with a huge chorus line, where Ellye was one of the chorus girls). Russell also sings in her own (very torchy) voice.

That’s it from Ellye!

PRIVATE LIFE

In 1946, barely 16 years old, Ellye made the headlines by dating the older wealthy Lothario, Huntington Hartford. They flew together around the country, and seemed a bit more than casual daters, getting so serious that Ellye’s mother was reportedly furious over the pairing. But to no one’s surprise, the romance didn’t’ last. She was also seen with Joe Kirkwood, Jr., but that too was fleeting. On October 29, 1948 Ellye got married to taxi driver James Stanley Somers. Somers was born on to James Somers and Winnie Hammon on October 26, 1925, in Port Angeles, Washington. The family moved to Los Angeles when he was a small boy, and he grew up there and became a taxi driver in the 1940s, after serving in the army for WW2.

Ellye started as a starlet and did all the usual starlet stuff – sold kisses at the Biltniore Hotel Bazaar in Bklyn, posed for cheesecake, has small snippets in the news. When she decided to go level up and gain real fame, some maneuvering was needed, and a little help from her “friends”, the studio PR machine. Ellye’s master PR manager (whoever he was) decided that his client is gonna take the dumb blonde approach and hopefully become a star. This worked a few times before – Marie Wilson is a good example, but my own assessment is that these brand of PR moves did more harm than good. They perhaps sometimes gave the starlet a brief period of intense publicity, but in the long run, the public tired easily from this kind of stunts and would forget or even be resentful of the manipulation. And let’s be realistic for  a moment here, who wants to be remembered as dumb? Almost nobody. So why did they do this? Anyway, this was the path Ellye took, and she was ridiculed like crazy in the papers, obviously in compliance with the PR machine.

Look how ever her divorce was made fun of:

Showgirl Ellye Marshall, 21, divorced taxi driver James Somers Jr. 24, today on testi-money. he called her a “jerk” and a “louse.” A friend, Claudette Thorton, also testified Somers “was always flirting” behind his wife’s back. Superior Judge Ray Brockman asked Miss Marshall how she knew her husband was flirting if her back was turned. “Well, your honor,” she said, “there are some things you just know.”

Here are more of her “gems”

Pretty Ellye Marshall, aB’klyn gal, went to Hollywood and got a good role in “Champagne for caesar,” playing a dumb blonde, But she was not so dumb, I found out at 21, where she helped celebrate the 25th wed ding anniversary of the Harry Popkins of Hollywood. She had been telling me. “Boys have a harder time getting ahead in Hollywood than girls,” and I said “Why :” “Because,” she said after thinking it over, “there aren’t any women producers

And this one explains it all:

On Broadway Ellye Marshall Is Beautiful But Dumb By Mark Barron NEW YORK She is a healthy girl as one can see by the bloom in her cheeks, her curvaceous muscles and the fact that she takes such vigorous indoor exercise as being the beautiful blond ski girl in a sports scene in Ken Murrays Broadway revue, Blackouts. On the stage Ellye Marshall looks mighty fetching as she comes on in her ski pants, ski cap and a ski jacket, the latter leaving about two feet of her neck exposed. Over her shoulder she carries a pair of skis as she sings a song about going high on the hill top to ski through the air like a ‘bird, etc. “Can you really ski? I challenged her. “No, she confessed. “In my dressing room once I got curious and tried the skis on my feet just to see how they felt. I stumbled, fell and nearly twisted my ankle. So I took them off in a hurry as I have to dance in the show. Miss Marshall has to play a dumb girl of the Marie Wilson type, but she says she has to work very hard at it “You have no idea how much work it is to be a dumb girl, she said. “For instance, when I started out to meet you, I thought and thought about something dumb to say so you would laugh and say, Gee, the girl is beautiful but dumb. “Then I figured that you undoubtedly would comment that I am pretty or I am nice, and I would open my eyes wide and reply: That’s the nicest compliment I’ve had all day. I just got up five minutes ago. So now if you just say I’m pretty, then I’ll say my dumb line and then we can get down to some talking about serious things. Gee, the girl is beautiful, but she ain’t dumb. Miss Marshall says she is always getting cast against type. She plays the ski girl on Broadway and cant ski. In Hollywood films she is usually cast as a bathing beauty but naturally but she cant swim a stroke. In the forthcoming movie, “Champagne for Caesar , she plays the role of Frosty opposite Ronald Colman who is supposed to be a brilliant quiz-show contestant, a man who can answer every question in the book. Even in a story supposed to be entirely about erudite scholars, she still is cast as a beautiful but dumb chick. In one scene Colman comments that she “has possibilities for genius. Everyone thinks I have wonderful possibilities especially men, Miss Marshall says.

And another one (the last one, I promise!):

Ellye Marshall, co – starred with Rory Calhoun in “Rogue River,” was named “Miss Profile of 1950” by a group of amateur photographers. “But why,’ she asks,-blankly, “do they always make ” m e – w e a r – a bathing suit when they photograph my profile?’

Did it help her, long term? Of course not! It usually never does. Anyway, as her career winded down, Ellye got hitched again. She married Val Grund, musical arranger, on October 28, 1950.  Val Jerald “Joe” Grund was born on October 27, 1927 in Los Angeles, to Valentine John  Grund Sr. and Lucile Pasely. Val did musical arrangements from the time he was in high school, and was even awarded for his choral setting of the 100th Psalm, along with a honorable mention in the orchestral division. He slowly started to work in the showbiz industry and landed with Ken Murray, working on his Ken Murray show.

Ellye gave up on her career to raise a family. Their daughter Valerie Jean Grund was born on November 2, 1952. Sadly, the Grunds divorced sometime after the birth of Valerie. Val died on July 14, 1965, aged only 37.

Ellye married Peter Lance at some point before 1959. I have no idea what happened to her afterwards, but as always, I hope she had a happy life!