Dene Myles came to Hollywood when she was barely 19 years old, young in age but actually a stage veteran, a seasoned dancer to be precise. How come? Well, due to difficult economic circumstances, Dene had danced professionally since she was 15 years old. Unfortunately, like most dancers that hit Hollywood with no dramatic background, she was relegated to the chorus and never credited in any movie she appeared in. Dene gave up movies and left for New York by 1940, and after a solid chorus girl career retired to raise a family. Let’s learn more about her.
Farnese Ileana Anderson was born on August 8, 1916, in Los Angeles, California, to Samuel Earl Anderson and Mary Lawler. Her older sister Alice Marie was born on January 6, 1914. Her father was a cigar dealer by profession, born in Montana, who served in WW1.
Farnese grew up in Los Angeles, and was a lively child who loved going to movies and had a knack for dancing. She attended local dancing schools and had hopes of becoming a pro dancer one day. Money was tight for the family, but they always managed to push on (like many other families, and today, of the time did/do).
Unfortunately, her desire was fulfilled in a distressing and non-pleasant way. Dene’s father died in 1930, in the middle of the great depression, and in order to help her mother with the upkeep of family, Dene abandoned her high school studies (she was only 15 years old, with 8 grades of elementary school under her belt) and became a professional dancer. She danced in various LA nightclub spots for several years.
It was during her tenure as a nightclub dancer that Dene was spotted by eminent choreographer LeRoy Prinz, and chosen to be one of his dancers. Since Prinz worked in the movie industry, he just pulled Dene along and there she was, ready to start a film career!
Dene Myles does not have any credits on IMDB, which is very weird since she was always pictured with a string of actresses who appeared in various LeRoy Prinz musicals. I can only assume that Dene did too, but she was not credited and simply forgotten.
What I do know is that Dene appeared on the publicity for the movie Anything Goes, so let us assume she played a dancer in it. Anything Goes is an adaptation of a Cole Porter musical with Bing Crosby and Ethel Merman. Yep, this is one of the few movies La Merman appeared in, and this is perhaps the strongest reason to see it. Of course, that isn’t saying much – the movie suffers from the “censoritis” syndrome. We all know how witty and funny Cole was, and the censors hated such witty and funny men and tried to put them to size any time they could. Yet, there a some good stuff to be enjoyed in the movie, and it’s far from the bottom of the barrel.
That was it from Dene!
Dene came to Hollywood in a bunch consisting of Beula Mc Donald, Kay Gordon, Dorothy Thompson, Bonita Barker and Esther Pressman and herself. All six were under the protection and guidance of LeRoy Prinz, studio dance director. For about a year the girls appeared in various pictures, and it was through his sponsorship that they were given solid contracts. In a nutshell, the group was a kind of experiment cooked by LeRoy who probably planned to propel not one but 6 girls into stardom via clever bit of publicity (she were often photographer together and got major coverage in the papers). Not the worst idea, but I can’t say it was successful. Neither of the girls reaped a quality career, but hey, they did work in Hollywood for at least a year which is not that bad in itself.
Dene, as a contractee of Paramount pictures, was signed to the stock theater by the studio and received dramatic training in the Phyllis Laughton school (along with her fellow starlets). We can assume that Dene did get her training and appeared in the local theater plays. Yes, studios often had stock theaters where people could go and see movie actors act in plays. Of course you probably wouldn’t see William Holden there, but it was a great chance to get some experience and get noticed by producers.
As for her love life, it was pretty low key. Dene dated Leif Erickson, and they were pretty serious for a short time before breaking up. Leif went on to marry Frances Farmer. On a side note, Dene loved to play lacrosse in her spare time.
Her career was going nowhere by 1938, and Dene was aware that she had to find other means of employment. Before 1940, with her mother and sister Alice, Dene moved from Hollywood to NYC, planning to continue her dance career. She travelled and performed with the USO, danced on and off Broadway using her stage name “Dean Myles”. Dene was a real working dancer, dancing non stop in various shows, but in the mid 1940s her life changed. She appeared in the Broadway show Mexican Hayride, and met her future husband, Paul Haakon.
Haakon was married when they fell in love, and divorced his wife to be able to marry Dene in 1946. Paul Haakon was born on September 7, 1911, in Fredericia, Denmark. He studied at the Royal Opera House in Copenhagen. Afterwards he went to the US and became a professional dancer. He danced at Radio City Music Hall with prominent ballerina Patricia Bowman. Soon he landed on Broadway, appearing in the musicals “Champagne Sec” in 1933, “At Home Abroad” in 1935, “The Show is On” in 1936 and “Hooray for What!” in 1937.
In 1935, he joined the American Ballet, forerunner of the NYC Ballet, but only briefly, finding ballet’s low salaries detrimental. Haakon stopped dancing in the early ‘40s, due to WW2 – during that time he toured with the USO, then returned to dance and worked as an assistant choreographer & dancer in Warner Brothers films and TV series.
After he married Dene, Paul went on to dance with the Jose Greco Spanish Ballet before becoming a ballet master and production manager with that organization. He retired in 1970 and earned a living as a salesman and mail handler.
Dene and Paul lived in New York, and had one daughter: Dana, born on January 26, 1953, and possibly a son, Ronald Anthony, born on February 14, 1948. Unfortunately, their marriage was already on its last legs by then, and they divorced the next year. Paul Haakon married Violet Dunne in 1955 and had two more children.
After the divorce, Dene returned to the place of her birth, California, and continued living quietly in Los Angeles, long retired from dancing. She did not remarry.
Dene Myles Haakon died on April 14, 1971, in Los Angeles, California.