Stephany Hampson

Perky, pretty Stephany Hampson was a California schoolgirl who became a sought after local model, then a chorus girl, then landed in Hollywood and signed with Howard Hughes. Unfortunately, like most girls who signed up with Howard, her career amounted to nothing. In the end she got married and retired. Let’s learn more about her!

EARLY LIFE

Stephany Carole Hampson was born on February 19, 1934 in Los Angeles, California, to Richard D. Hampson and Kathleen Ruth Hampson. Her father was a truck driver for an oil company, her mother was a native Canadian who was barely 18 years old when she married. Her older brother, Denny, was born in 1939.

The family lived in San Gabriel valley in the 1940s. Stephany and her brother grew up there and attended high school. A pretty girl with a wholesome appearance and a cute visage, Stephany got into modeling pretty early, when she was just 15 years old, (cca. 1949) and was soon one of the most prominent models in the region. She hit major fame in 1950, when she was chosen Miss Food Show, and made all the local papers. A string of similar titles followed.

In 1951, Stephany graduated from being a model to having a part in a show. Los Angeles Junior Chamber of Commerce was pioneering new type of theater production by lending initial support to a show, “My LA.” William Trek was the producer, and Betsy Jennings, Marge Darby, Vivian Mason, Marilyn Perry and Betsy were the actresses. It is via this route that she landed in Hollywood in 1953.

CAREER

Stephany appeared in only one movie, the Judy Holiday vehicle It Should Happen to You. This movie is more than relevant today, with it’s meditation on fame and celebrity. Story: Judy plays a model who gets it in her head to make herself a celebrity just by putting her name on a huge blackboard, and it works in different way that she anticipated? Written by Garson Kanin, this is a vintage comedy with substance and subtext, with a superb cast . Judy, Jack Lemmon as a photographer who falls for her, Peter Lawford as an aristocratic ad man who also wants the billboard, Michael O’Shea as a sleazy TV show host… Directed by George Cukor, it’s a delightful treat from the 50s, with the impressive aesthetics and a overall feel good vibe, but just with an edge!

Ghat was it from Stephany!

PRIVATE LIFE

Staphany was one of many actresses who were under contract to the notorious Howard Hughes, and only made a few uncredited appearances. Mostly, Hughes sure didn’t put his actresses under contract for their thespian skills. I can’t claim that he abused all of them, but his reputation was hardly sterling and most of the girls signed were only used for publicity purposes, and never given any chances to act. And it seems that Howard liked having pretty girls under contract and wasting their time, just because he could. More can be found on this link: https://nypost.com/2018/12/11/inside-the-horrors-of-howard-hughes-hollywood-sexcapades/

While the girls signed contract on their own free will, the whole situation is iffy as heck. This is something not many people talk about today, but what happened to these girls is pretty much tragic. Young, impressionable, they were sure that Mr. Hughes was their path to at least steady movie employment, and nobody expected to be used and then showed aside when the next girl came. Most of them didn’t even except that signing to become an actress would not make you an actress, but a mere cheesecake at best. While I admire Hughes for some stuff he did for the movie industry, the 1950s Hughes was already borderline crazy and the things he did were certainly not nice. I hope most of them left behind that whole sordid mess unscathed.

Luckily, Stephany escaped the whole messed up situation by marrying and retiring from movies by late 1953. Her man was John Lee McElroy, and what a very colorful man he was! John was born in March 1922, in Tower Hill, Illinois to. In the mid 1920s the family to Alberta, Canada. Only to return to the US in the late 1930s. John served in the Air Corps. during WW2, and after the war ended he relocated to Los Angeles where he opened an auto body shop. He was also an passionate aviator, and flew his own planes frequently.

The McElroys had three children: Gary Steven, born on April 14, 1954, Ricky, born on December 4, 1956, and Coleen, born on December 7, 1957. John became a builder and a land developer. While living in Burbank he built houses in Van Nuys and the surrounding area. In Anaheim he built the first industrial subdivision. The family moved to Corona, Riverside in 1962, where he developed the Mountain View Golf Course.

Stephany and McElroy divorced in June 1966. John continued his active life – in 1968 he purchased acreage in Murrieta and began farming; growing oats, wheat and barley. McElroy died on January 2, 2005, in Murrieta.

Stephany married her second husband, James W. Totman on June 28, 1968.

James WIlliam Totman was born on April 7, 1929, in Fort Dodge, Iowa, to William and Myrtle Totman, the youngest of three children (his older sisters were Lorraine and Bonita). James went to High school at the Pillsbury Military Academy in Minnesota. He then went to Washington University for a year. During the Korean War, James served as a staff sergeant in the U. S. Army for 21 months, 16 of which were in combat. After the war he became a building contractor for schools, apartment building, motels and other commercial works. He moved to Riverside and became a a very successful local building contractor, and today even has a stadium named after him. He had major interests in race horses. He was married once before, and had a daughter, Dana Ann, born on February 23, 1955.

Stephany and Totman lived in Riverside until their 1973 divorce. Totman died on December 5, 2002.

As far as I can tell, Stephany is still alive today. As always, I hope she had a good life!

Betty Dumbris

Betty Dumbris

Beautiful chorus girl who was a top contender in the glamorous Ziegfeld Follies, Betty Dumbris sadly didn’t achieve any king of a cinematic career, but her colorful private life makes her an interesting subject to

EARLY LIFE

Elizabeth Dumbris was born on March 30, 1913, in Washington, DC, to Anton Paul Dumbris and Sarah Ann Miller, who married the previous year. Anton was born in Lithuania and immigrated to the US, and worked as a tool maker. Sarah Ann was born in Ireland.

Betty spent her earliest years in Washington DC, and then the family moved to Anderson, Indiana, where Betty attended elementary and high school. Betty grew up into a beautiful girl who harbored dreams of becoming an dancer and actress. In 1928, when Betty was a 16-year-old high school girl, she entered the pageantry circuit, and pretty soon, she was selected from among 200  competitors to represent Indiana at the international beauty contest at. Galveston, Texas. After receiving a bit of fame, there was no way back for Betty, and she left Indiana for New York, where she landed work as a chorus girls almost right away. Not long after she scored her first gig, she became a Ziegfeld girl, which was the holy grail for all chorus girls back then. Betty was one of the most heralded of Ziegfeld’s girls, often photographer by Alfred Cheney, the famed photographer. And it was via the Ziegfeld follies that a movie career awaited her…

CAREER

Betty had a relatively long a career in showbiz, but her movie career was just a speck compared to her theater/chorus girl one. While she gained fame in 1928, she came to Hollywood only in 1934, and signed with Hal Roach Studios, but sadly made no movies. Betty freelanced from then on, trying to break into movies in other ways.

While I believe she made quite a bit more movies, on IMDB she is credited in only two movies. Roberta goes down in history as the first pairing of Ginger Rogers and Fred Astaire, but even without the eternal musical duo, it’s a finely made, entertaining movie.  While the story is trivial (An American jazzman and his buddy woo a Russian princess and a fake countess in Paris), the cast is excellent. Irene Dunne is, as always, a grand dame with a great voice. There are also Randolph Scott and Claire Dodd (she’s a treasure).

betty_dumbris01a

The Girl Friend is a totally forgotten movie with Ann Sothern. A thin but seemingly funny story is that an actor and two songwriters become rural con men. Too bad it’s so obscure!

That was it from Betty!

PRIVATE LIFE

Betty married her first husband, a wealthy NYC merchant, Maurice S. Meyer, on December 17, 1932. Maurice was born in New Yersey in 1899, to Simon and Rose Meyer, the fourth of five children. He grew up in Jersey, and then moved to New York in high school. He became a merchant specializing in women-ware. He married in 1926 to Rosella Corn, but they were divorced before the decade was out, and he lived with his dad, his sister and her husband in a posh place with two servants.

Betty gave up any aspiration for a Hollywood career while married to him, but as you can surmise, the marriage did not last long and they were on the outs by 1935. Unfortunately I could not further trace what happened to Maurice, so I have no idea when or where he died, or did he get remarried.

If Betty ever got any newspaper coverage, it was in 1935 when she was dating boxing champion Max Baer.

Max Baer can take a punch on the chin, but he’s a sucker for a beautiful girl. The heavyweight champion has been K.O.D. again by Cupid. His new girl is Betty Dumbris, former Ziegfeld follies showgirl who is now under contract to ap pear in pictures for Hal Roach A week ago Max was telephoning frantically from Detroit to Chicago to find out her whereabouts. He is ready to walk down the aisle with her any time she can get a divorce from her estranged husband, Murray Mayer of New . York, according to the champion’s intimates. Baer has been in and out of love almost continually since he grew up. His first love was Olive Beck, the Livermore, Cal., waitress. He told her he loved her, and put it in writing, too, and that cost him a nice piece of change when he got in the money. She sued him for breach of promise, and he settled out of court “I was just a green country boy then,” said Max recently. “I didn’t know any better.” There were a lot of other girls and then came Dorothy Dunbar. He met her before a fight in Reno, Nev., and almost proposed from the ring. They were married in Reno and later divorced. Some say Baer still loves her. There is no disputing that she left an impression. She taught Baer how to talk, how to act and how to conduct himself in smart company. His next violent flame was June Knight, musical comedy singer. That affair reached its height before his bout with Max Schmeling. In between there were a lot of other girls, and a couple of them i went to see their lawyers about Max’s attentions. Two of them. Bee Starr and Shirley La Bell, in stituted breach of promise suits Max contends he never saw either Miss Starr or Miss La Bell. Miss Starr was a circus icrialist, and Max’s comment on her is: . “Can you imagine me going for a ‘girl on the flying trapeze’? The champion says he never heard of Miss La Bell until his lawyers advised him he was involved in another breach of promise suit. “You know this breach of promise stuff may be funny to some folks,” said Baer, “but not to me. It cost me over $10,000 last year for lawyers.” An angle that Baer resents even more than the money women have cost him is the fact that it makes him appear in a bad public light. “People who don’t know me think that all I try to do is break some girl’s heart and then forgot all about her,” Baer commented. “I like girls but I try to conduct myself around them just like anyone else. I can’t get over the fact that girls I’ve never seen start breach of promise suits against me.” Baer’s smile has broken more than one girl’s heart, despite the champion’ words. After his exhibition against Babe Hunt in Detroit last week more than a dozen girls waited around his hotel room door just for a glimpse of him a word or a smile. It’s that way whenever he woos. Society women cater to him. and more than one prominent socialite in New York. Chicago and California has bid for his attention. At least one Chicago heiress plans to go to Florida just to see him In a couple of exhibition bouts the latter part of this month

It ended up being a storm in  teacup, as they fizzled out just a few months later. Betty got her divorce, and was ready for a new marriage! She was still appearing in the Ziegfeld Follies, and obviously pretty popular with the boys,

To the surprise of no one, in July 1936 Betty remarried to Russell John, wealthy New York broker. He was very devoted, going to every show of the Follies to gaze at his beloved. Allegedly Betty wanted to travel to London to appear in a variety show there, but Russell changed her mind. Here is a short and sweet article about their marriage:

After touring madly about Long Island Sunday night in search of some one to marry them, Betty Dumbris, former “Follies” beauty, and Russell John, Wall Street broker, were honeymooning; yesterday in a cottage near the Atlantic Beach Club. Betty had intended leaving for London shortly to appear in a Charles B. Cochran Review, but John talked her out of it. The couple, together with socially prominent friends, climbed into young Bill Plankinton’s trailer and went license-hunting. They appeared at midnight at the home of Judge George Johnson in Hempstead, Nassau, where the ceremony was performed. Later a reception was held at the Rockville Country Club. John’s former wife, Mrs. Dorothy Wiley John, divorced him in Connecticut last February.

David Russell John was born in Scranton, Pennsylvania on November 16, 1904 to David R. John and Margaret Davies. He had an older sister, Margaret. Sadly, his mother died in 1911, and David moved to New York and became a financial broker and part of the high society. He was married once before to Dorothy Wiley, a colorful debutante, but they were divorced by 1935.

Their son David Russell John Jr. was born in New York, USA on September 8, 1937. Betty and Russell lived the high life in New York, Betty retired from showbiz, and it was good until it lasted. And then it just didn’t. They divorced sometime in the late 1940s. Russell died on October 28, 1977 in Palm Beach, Florida.

Betty married her third husband, William Harman Brown II, on October 27, 1953, in New York. Brown was born on October 31, 1899 in New York to a prominent family. He was the great grandson of Stewart Brown, one of the original partners of the firm of Brown Bros. Co. during the Civil War and for some time thereafter he was the junior member of the firm of Muller & Brown, gold and exchange brokers. His grandfather, William Brown, was one of the best known and most popular figures In Wall Street. He was one of the original directors of the Corn Exchange Bank, and for thirty years held that office. Mr* Brown, with other prominent men, was Instrumental In raising the money for the erection of the building of the Young Men’s Christian Association In Twenty-third-st., and he was particularly involved with the development of the free Classes connected with that Institution.

William was married once before, to Mary Horsman on October 4, 1922. They had a son, Stewart Brown, born on July 18, 1928. They divorced in the 1940s.

Betty and Brown continued living in New York, also in style. It was a happy marriage until Brown died on December 5, 1972 in Brooklyn, New York.

Betty falls of from the radar from then on. I have no idea when and where she died. As always, I hope she had a good life!