Dene Myles

 

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.

 

EARLY LIFE

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!

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! 

PRIVATE LIFE

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.

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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.

Roma Aldrich

Pretty blonde Roma Aldrich was a model and champion swimmer who came to Hollywood without any extensive dramatic training, nor with a burning desire to act. However, she was nice looking and personable enough to net herself a short movie career. Let’s hear more about it! 

EARLY LIFE

Roma Darl Aldrich was born in New York City, New York on September 12, 1920, to William Frank and Hazel Aldrich. Her older brother William Frank Jr. was born on January 23, 1913. Her father was an electrical contractor, born in Texas.

The family, seeking a more peaceful environment to raise their children, moved to Ashbury Park, New Jersey in the mid 1920s. Roma grew up there and attended elementary school. Roma’s passion back then, when she was a teen, was not acting or indeed modeling, but rather swimming – once she caught the swimming bug, she never looked back, and spent a large chunk of her free time in the local pool. The hard work paid off – Roma became one of the best female swimmers on the East coast in the 1930s! She was so good she represented the Colony Surf Club on the East Coast and was Far East state champion. She held the 220 yard record for women.

After graduation from high school, Roma went to New York, where she became a photo model. I assume that there she was spotted by a talent scout, who torpedoed her to Los Angeles, and her career began!

CAREER

Rom appeared in only five movies in her career. 

Roma’s first movie was Parachute Nurse, a woman empowerment movie typical for the WW2 period with the ever reliable Marguerite Chapman in the lead, plying the eponymous nurse that parachutes into the most difficult terrain to help people who otherwise can’t get any medical attention. Roma has an interesting role of a fellow parachute nurse. Many other starlets-of-the-hour appeared in the movie – Kay Harris, Audrene Brier, Louise Albritton, Shirley Patterson, Catherine Craig, Eileen O’Hearn, Marjorie Riordan… 

Up next was a big thing! Roma’s career highlight was, IMHO sadly, a low budget western – Frontier Fury. She plays the female lead and got quite a bit of publicity over it. As I noted several times, I refrain from writing about low budget westerns since I have literary 0 interest in them, so can’t write much about Roma’s one major moment of fame.

Not much better, but slightly more palatable for my taste, was her next movie, another low budget western, Klondike Kate. Why? Well, Frontier Fury is a true blue western with exclusively western stars and a very typical western story. Klondike Kate, on the other hand, is actually a drama-comedy set in a western surroundings, with a diverse and very good cast that was actually not known for their western roles – Tom Neal, Ann Savage, Constance Worth (yep, these people were more known for film noir than anything else!). And we have a very yummy love triangle between Tom, Ann and Constance, plus all the usual – saloon fights, gun fights, horses! For people who like hard core westerns, this probably isn’t their cup of tea, but for me, watching Tom Neal and Ann Savage in any surroundings is a-okay, even if it’s a frontier type of setting.   

Next up was a funny and mostly well made B crime movie, Double Exposure. As one reviewer nicely wrote in is review of the movie on IMDB, “this is a really entertaining little offering in which an able cast led by Chester Morris (the magazine editor), Nancy Kelly (the freelance photographer), Richard Gaines (the exercise-conscious publisher), Philip Terry (the freelancer’s boyfriend) and Charles Arnt (a millionaire of the marrying kind) mix comedy, romance and a murder mystery with most entertaining results.” It has a nifty story, solid cast, nice gags and overall it’s a low budget but well made movie. 

Roma’s last movie was Mickey the Great, not a real movie per see but some pasted on footage of the Mickey McGuire movies, framed by a mini movie where Roma plays one of the leading roles. She is one of three women reminiscing about their times as Mickey McGuire’s gang members. Mickey McGuire is of course played by a very young Mickey Rooney, and it is this curiosity that makes the movie perhaps worth watching for Mickey fans. Clocking at 50 minutes, it’s short and cute but that was it. 

That’s it from Roma! 

PRIVATE LIFE

When Roma came to Hollywood, in order to boost up her visibility and make her more palatable to the general public, she was nicknamed The Eggplant girl. Yes, as a part of a publicity stunt she posed with an eggplant. The more I write this blog, the more such publicity stunts crop up, and I must say, some of them leave me speechless. Who made up these things…

In real life, outside these silly publicity games, Roma seemed like a normal, down-to-earth gal. She was quite close to her parents and after she left home visited them often. In 1940, they went on a Hawaiian vacation together. In Hollywood she did mingle occasionally with the in-crowd, befriending Carole Parker, having dinner fêtes at Sardi’s and often going horseback riding in Bel-Air.

Via that stellar high-society crew, Roma famously met and dated Jimmy’ Roosevelt, son of president F.D. Roosevelt, in late 1940 (during his love spat with nurse Romelle Schneider). The idyll between Roma and Jimmy didn’t last particularly long, since Roosevelt and Schneider were still in love, and Roma was likely only a band aid to mend a broken heart. Romelle and Jimmy made up and soon Roma was out of the picture.

Roma’s next beau was Randolph “Randy” Scott, famous actor. That also did not last long, just a few months in 1941. Then in late 1941 Roma started dating her future husband, Arthur W. Armstrong. Roma married him on September 4, 1942 in Las Vegas, Nevada. Unlike her former more flashy beaus, Armstrong was a normal guy, working as a bookkeeper. Born in Ohio in 1908, he came to California in the late 1920s and lived with his father and brother in Los Angeles for a time. 

Roma falls out of the newspaper radar from now on. She obviously gave up movies and worked in other fields, but I have no idea exactly what or how. She possibly had a son, born on February 27, 1950, named James Delbert Armstrong.

Roma and Armstrong divorced at some point in the early 1950s (before 1955). In 1955 Roma was involved in a car accident and had some knee problems demanding a convalescence period in rehabilitation facilities. Roma was an avid swimmer this whole time, and kept up the hobby long after her Hollywood career ended.  

Roma did not remarry and remained living in Los Angeles.

Roma Aldrich died on January 18, 1984, in Santa Monica, California

 

Helen Seamon

Helen Seamon started her career as a starlet in the 1930s, but that wasn’t quite the beginning of it all. Groomed for stardom from her early days, Helen was pretty and a good dancer, but the long awaited stardom eluded her after years in Hollywood. However, she found her niche in theater work, and racked up a nice string of theatrical appearances. From a starlet to an serious actress, like! Let’s learn more about her!  

EARLY LIFE

Helen Virginia Seamon was born on April 15, 1919, in Pine Bluff, Arkansas, to Alpha C. and Lottie Seamon. She was their only child. Her father, an Indiana native, worked as a railroad ticket master, almost 20 years older than his wife. The family resided in Pine Bluff.   

Helen’s mother was a typical stage mother who wanted her daughter up in the lights, with her name on marquees. When Helen was three years of age Mrs. Seamon started her study of dancing. She made her official debut in the local theater, during children’s matinees. Helen sat on the organ console and sang. When Helen was a bit older her parents scraped enough money to send her to study under Ernest Belcher, a dancing master in Los Angeles (the father of Marge Champion and teacher to Cyd Charisse), always hoping to catch somebody’s eye and make it in Hollywood. 

Helen’s luck changed when she was 17 years old – she danced at the Texas Centennial Celebration. Movie scouts saw possibilities in her, and after that crashed Hollywood with a contract. Alternative story goes that Helen accompanied a friend to a studio and sat in the waiting room, while the friend talked to the casting director. Another executive raced into the waiting room, waved Helen into his office and said he had to have a girl in a dance number. But anyway, she was finally noticed! 

That’s how her career started! 

CAREER

Helen mostly played chorus girls in MGM movies, and was uncredited from her first to her last role. Her first role came in 1935, with the movie Folies Bergère de Paris. The movie has a cliché, semi idiotical plot – an entertainer impersonates a look-alike banker, causing comic confusion for wife and girlfriend., but we have Maurice Chevalier who just rocks everything he is in, and thus we don’t’ really need anything of any deep substance to make it a palatable movie. Merle Oberon is also in it, as is Ann Sothern, so the girl cast is very good! Then came Hearts in Bondage, an interesting albeit flawed Civil war drama, with David Manners and James Dunn playing two naval officers who find themselves on the opposing sides of the war. The story is well constructed and shows us sea battles of the civil war (usually never seen in film), but the script is too banal and direction is so-so. Interesting to note that actor Lew Ayres is the director here! Good to know he was such a versatile man! Mae Clark as Dunn’s fiancée and Manners’ sister is also a plus! 

Helen then appeared in another of the Gold Diggers movies, Gold Diggers of 1937. What to say – lots of scantly clad girls, dancing and no story! Been there, seen that, but it’s fun fare is you like that kind of stuff. Similarly lightweight was her next feature, the Dick Powell vehicle The Singing Marine. The story – a young marine wins a talent contest, becomes famous, but gets in trouble with everybody! Dick Powell in the 1930s was a happy-go-lucky dance and song guy who made simple, low-calorie movies by the bucket load, mostly with the same story, only slightly rehashed and often with the same leading ladies. Dick wanted out of that heap of films and one can see why – while The Singing Marine, among others, is a funny romp that is enjoyable on some level, you literary forget it the second you stop watching it. Dick could do and would do better in the decades that came, and good for him, this was a waste of his talent!  

More serious but not very impressive fare was Comet Over Broadway, one of the movies that Kay Francis was pushed by her studio, Warner Bros, to make in order to milk more money from the . It’s a complicated story of why and how, but bottom line – Kay Francis, one of the most unusual and fresh actresses of the 1930s, was relegated to low-quality, over the top melodramas by the late 1930s, and not by choice. Kay was a very expensive star, commanding a large salary and Warner Bros wanted to put her into place. Viola, we have a very badly written melodrama with some good actors. The story is way over the top, and Kay is the only reason to watch this.

A similar mess is Broadway Serenade, one of the few movies Jeannette McDonald made without Nelson Eddy in the late 1930s. Here we have another incredibly thin story (a singer makes it big, blah blah), but at least there is plenty of music and the male lead is plays by the always nice Lew Ayres

And then! The Wizard of Oz, playing  a very small but charming role of a lady with a cat. I’ll just leave it here, only mentioning the name of this classic is enough! If anything, Helen will forever be remembered for this movie!

Helen’s 1940s movies were a bit better than her 1930s fare, but sadly she was still in the uncredited roster. In 1940s she made Strike Up the Band, a charming, funny and endearing musical with Judy Garland and Mickey Rooney as two youngsters trying to strike up a band (as per the title!).  Made by Busby Berkeley, it’s a minor classic and well worth a watch! Same for the musical classic, Ziegfeld Girl. MGM at it’s best – everything, is high class, elegant and expensive – there are tons of great actors (especially the supporting actors!), top notch music and dancing. And Lana Turner, Hedy Lamarr and Judy Garland! What is there not not like? Okay, it is a bit overly melodramatic and over-the-top with only a mediocre story, but that’s classic Hollywood for you!

Helen then signed a contract with the Poverty Row studio, Republic pictures. Her first picture for the studio was Mr. District Attorney in the Carter Case, which is sadly completely forgotten today. It sounds like a okay crime/mystery movie with James Ellison and Virginia Gilmore in the leads. Then Helen appeared in another absolute classic, this time just a comedy – Ball of Fire. Gary Cooper, Babs Stanwayck, written by Billy Wilder and directed by Howard Hawks, whauza! This combo of talent can’t really go wrong now can it. And a insanely good supporting cast – Richard Haydn, Oscar Homolka, Henry Travers, S.Z. Sakall, Tully Marshall, Dana Andrews, Allen Jenkins… And the story, so simple and yet so perfect – when academia and burlesque meet, and sparks fly! Just add in some bad guys and you have it!

Unfortunately, Helen followed this with very good string of movies with three lackluster films: Joan of Ozark, a typical Judy Canova hillbillie movie with a humor level to match (I am sure there are people who enjoy this, but let’s not pretend it’s the height of sophisticated comedy), Hi, Neighbor, a completely forgotten musical comedy with Jean Parker, and Here We Go Again, a typical Fibber and Molly McGee movie (if you like that brand of humor, great, if not, don’t watch it).  

Helen ended he career in some TV series, and then retired in 1955 for good. 

That’s all from Helen! 

PRIVATE LIFE

Helen was a natural blonde and five foot tall. She was very close to her parents, and here is a short and sweet tidbit about their relationship, as published in the local papers: 

That trick little blonde who has graced so many cigarette advertisements and who has induced so many ladies to buy a certain soap will be leading lady this week at Deer Lake Theatre. Besides having been one of the most popular of New York models, Helen Sea-mon has also had a busy career on the screen, radio, television and the stage. When Helen Seamon came east from Hollywood after appearing in such films as “Diamond Horseshoe,” ‘The Dolly Sisters,” and The Gang’s All Here,” her father and mother decided on a pleasant custom. For every Broadway production she played in they would give hera charm for her bracelet. Firsthere was a four leaf clover for “The Vigil.” Then a stork for “Born Yesterday” was followed by a miniature box of chocolates for “Goodbye, My Fancy.” Helen played the ingenue who passed candy when she announced her engagement. The most recent charm on her bracelet is a tiny heart to represent the French laundress in “Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep.”, it was this coquettish maid that the Ecuadorian General played by Frederic March was always pursuing. If her family continue the custom for summer productions Helen will be wearing a miniature sundial for the play she does at Deer Lake Theatre. It’s Susan Glaspell’s “Tickless Time.” ! But beside rehearsing at Deer Lake. , has been commuting to New York. She has an important role in the Paul Douglas film, “14 Hours,” which Is being filmed in Manhattan. Then, too, she’s getting ready to be Penny of the comic strip over NBC when that television show is released this fall.

After her Hollywood career fizzled, Helen went into theater full time and was quite successful at it, appearing on Broadway four times (Waltz of the toreadors, Now I lay me down to sleep, Goodbye, My Fancy and The Vigil). Helen tirelessly acted in regional theater and summer stock, becoming a real, high quality working actress, a person who is not in it for fame and fortune only but also for the acting fulfillment and for the chance of working alongside legends like Paul Kelly , Uta Hagen, Lon Chaney, Scott McKay and so on. This is such a great story about an actress who didn’t make it in Hollywood, but worked steadily in the theater afterwards.

Helen’s private life was quite low key newspaper-wise, and she married for the first time on July 10, 1964 to Thomas Evans Beal. Beal was born on November 25, 1917, in Washington DC, to Carlton Beal, wealthy oil operator, and Helen E. Beal. He had an older brother, Carlton Evans born in 1914. His father was the Vice-President of Marland Oil Company, and was credited with discovering some of California’s greatest oil fields. His parents’ marriage was stormy and they divorced when Thomas was in elementary school. There was quite a bit of push and pull around the division of property (read money) between Carlton and Helen, and finally it was court ordered that Carlton had to pay for Thomas’ tuition. Ultimately Thomas went on to work for his father’s company,  BTA Oil Producers.

Thomas was married once before, to Dorothy M. Nilson in 1938, and had three children: Mary Elizabeth, born on April 2, 1941, Thomas Evans, born on August 27, 1943, and Donald Nilson, born on October 11, 1948. He was divorced in the 1950s. Thomas and Helen met sometime in the mid 1960s and the rest was history! The couple lived together in Orange county and were very active in the local philanthropic and civic sphere.

Beal died on February 28, 1979, and Helen continued living in Orange county after his death, then moved to Garden Grove at some point and enjoyed her golden years there. She continued to support the Children’s Hospital of Orange County (CA) through the Helen Seamon Beal Trust.

Helen Seamon Beal died on February 2, 2001, in Garden Grove, California.

Doris Fessette

Doris Fesette is a very interesting woman. A beautiful girl who figured out pretty early that looks can’t take you all the way, she was a drama school graduate who did all kinds of work to finally get a foothold in Hollywood. A brief flash of fame came and went just as quickly, but she stuck to the profession of choice and worked for a solid period of time in all kinds of mediums. She finally ended up a real estate agent and had a productive and long life. Let’s learn more about her!

EALRY LIFE

Doris Jane Fessette was born on January 11, 1923, in New York City, New York, to Jay and Della Fessette. Her younger brother Jay Jr. was born on December 4, 1924. The family lived in Plattsburgh, New York after her birth. Her parents separated in the late 1920s, and Doris and Jay lived with their mother afterwards. Her father died in 1930s.

Doris grew up in up-state New York, and went to Hollywood “to be discovered” shortly after graduation from high school. When roles didn’t pour in right away, she went to drama school for two years taking speech, acting, fencing, dancing lessons and generally getting some experience in stage craft. To earn money for her education, she worked as a air stewardess for Western Air Lines.

 It took quite a while for Hollywood to catch on but it finally happened. A talent scout flying to Los Angeles took one look at Doris and promptly rushed her from the airport to Samuel Goldwyn Studios for a screen test. Thus Doris became the first airline glamour-gal to be signed up by the movies.

Her first Hollywood wave ended not long after, and she returned to New York once again. This time she had some acting experience, and played in summer stock, did fashion modeling on the runway and on TV. Television commercials came next.

It was this work in TV commercials that that landed her back to Hollywood where Doris had “several small parts in big productions and big parts in small producitons.”

CAREER

Doris went back and forth between Hollywood and modeling work. She allegedly did some movie work in the 1940s, but no information about it exists on IMDB. She allegedly appeared in The Best Years of Our lives, but her credit has not been listed. This opens up a larger discussion about how so many bit players were not credited in movies they appeared in, making it almost impossible to follow the trajectory of their careers today.

Doris’ first credited role was in Edge of Fury, a movie made in 1953 but finally released in 1958. So, she got her first credit only then, when she was 36 years old – but she has been in Hollywood for more than 10 years by then, so this is somehow fishy.

Anyway, Edge of Fury is a typical sleazy 1950s movie they don’t make anymore – the story is vintage California – A psychopathic young beachcomber pretends to befriend a mother and two daughters living at their summer home. The actors are completely unknown, even to a obscure lover like me – Michael Higgins, Lois Holmes and Jean Allison. After some research; I would see that Higgings was actually a very good Method actor who worked in a string of great movies – The Arragement, The Conversation, Wanda, so this is a huge plus. But the girls – Literary never heard about neither of the two. Sadly, the movie is mostly forgotten, although it is one twisted and sick piece of work.

Doris worked extensively on TV afterwards (I am almost certain IMDB just lists a fraction of her real credits) and didn’t care about Hollywood much. Due to this choice, Doris’ second movie only came much later – Madison Avenue in 1961. This movie is an interesting one as well, not quite a good piece of art but with some merit to it. It does show how Madison Avenue looked and operated in the 1960s, and much like Mad Man it shocks people with it’s brazen display of power and good marketing sense, plus all the drinking and smoking! Plus we have two very good actors in it, Dana Andrews and Eleanor Parker. TOo bad the story is paper thin and the budget somehow limited, but still worth a watch!

Doris’ last movie came in 196 – The Sergeant Was a Lady. Yep, the name already denoted it as a uninspired, run of the mill 1960s comedy that was made by the bucket load and except being watched in the cinemas the year it was released, not really ripe for repeated watching. The cast is nothing outstanding – Martin West and Venetia Stevenson, while eye candy both of them, were hardly top notch thespians. But at least we have Bill Williams and Catherine McLeod in the support, and I like both of them!

That is it from Doris!

PRIVATE LIFE

Doris was active in war effort work during WW2, and toured around the country as a WAVE.

Doris private life made little to no headlines. Her first husband was Jonah Greenspan, sports commentator extraordinaire. They married sometime in the early 1950s.

Greenspan, known to his friends and family as Bud, specialized in the Olympics and was a much lover speaker at many conventions and colleges. For instance, he often did speeches on dramatic instances of courage and sportsmanship since the first Olympic games in 1896. During WW2, Bud was a captain in the US Intelligence Reserve, and after the war he started to broadcast his own radio program, The Trophy Room, over more than 250 stations. During their marriage, Greenspan was compiling an album entitled The Roaring Twenties and his film, The Olympiad,” was being produced. Sadly, the marriage disintegrated after a few years, and they were divorced by 1956.

Doris became one of Jackie Gleason’s portrait girls on TV and also worked the Phil Silvers show, but, as she became older, jobs became fewer and fewer, she decided to become a real estate agent in California. She spent her spare time between treks to the various studios studying the California real estate code, and in time became a full- fledged real estate saleswoman. Pretty soon, she became quite successful at her job, with an assignment to sell 30 eight-unit apartment houses in nearby Anaheim. However, she hoped to make it as an actress, as she told the papers:

“I found the parts for women in films have been few and small,” she explained. “Besides most of the ‘names are grabbing what ever they can just to keep before the public. An un known doesn’t have much chance when there aren’t enough places for even the stars. However, I never give up hope. That s why I m going to sell real estate on the side.”

She met Barney Collins when she tried to sell him an apartment. Collins is an interesting gent, who gently introcuded Doris in the world of philanthropy and civic service. Collins was active in The Shrine, a philanthropic organization, and Doris gladly delved into it too. Here is an article about their work:

The promise of a new direction in the work of the Shrin- ers — with emphasis on developing youth. — was made last night by the leader of the 850,000-member organization. Barney W. Collins of Mexico City spoke at a meeting of all Masonic groups in Hotel Syracuse. The groups were invite d by the Tigris Temple, Onondaga County’s Shrine organization. Collins, whose imposing title is imperial potentate of the Ancient Arabic Order of the Nobles of the Mystic Shrine, said that at the July convent i o n in San Francisco he would ask for a permanent committee to oversee activities concerning the Order of DeMolay. The DeMolay is a non-sectarian organization for boys 11 to 21 sponsored by the Shrin- ers and other Masonic bodies. Collins said he would ask for an assessment of 25 cents f rom each member. This would give the committee a budget of 3200,000, At present the Supreme Council of DMe- Moyal operates with a budget of $35,000, a figure Collins indicated is too low to do the job of leadership. He said there are 160,000 members of DeMolay. This is too few. He said interesting and providing boys with an organization was the finest thing the Shriners could do. Tall and thin, Collins has been touring the United States and Canada since last July when he was elected head of the Shriners. With him was his tall, blonde and beautiful wife, Doris. Mrs. Collins is the former Doris Fesette of Platlsburgh. She spoke briefly and warned the Shriners and other Masons that they have been “resting on past laurels.” She said the hope for fine future of Freemasonry was with the youth organization.

Although she knew nothing about the Shrine two years ago, Mrs. Collins is an enthusiastic convert. She says the Shrine is filled with wonderful men and points to their work with crippled children to prove it. (The Shrine’s total annual budget for hospital philanthropy for children is almost $15 million.)

Collins was an active man, and headed several organization. His work included serving as venerable master of the Lodge of Perfection; wise master to Rose Croix; commander of the Council of Kadosh. In 1954 he became one of the few Americans in Mexico to be honored by being coroneted a 33rd degree Honorary by the Supreme Consejo of Mexico. He held the degree of honor of Phi Kappa Delta, National Collegiate Forensic Fraternity, was a trustee of the University of the Americas and presently an associate member of the board.

As Mrs. Collins, Doris was a devotee of healthy living, and this was written about her lifestyle:

Shriner ladies follow the lead of their new potentate’s wife, they’ll have whistle-rating figures by fall. Mrs. Barney W. Collins, former television and movie actress, is a health food enthusiast, does isometric exercises and runs a mile every day. Here, she does 12 laps around around the block when she is at her apartments in Mexico City or San Francisco. She admits that it’s difficult, the pool at the new Washing When visiting her mother in New York, Doris Collins runs her mile along the Hudson River. Proof that strict discipline pays off is the 5-foot 6-inch. 118-pound Mrs. Collins’ size 8 figure, sparkling brown eyes, and soft and glossy blonde hair. Maintaining that “life isn’t worth living if you are not healthy,” Mrs. Collins stays preparations by laq on her strict diet even while on official dinners. But in the last year since marrying Barney Collins, she has become used to sitting down to a dinner where the salad is the only thing on the menu she can eat. Mrs. Collins who says she first went on a “health food kick” when she turned 30, feels that it is the only way to eat and insists that she feels better and has more energy than ever be. fore in her life. On her diet are broiled chicken and fish, fresh fruits and vegetables, juices (not from the can or frozen they must be fresh), cheeses, herb tea and still wines with no coffee, tea, hard liquor or frizzy drinks.

Doris and Collins divorced in December 1966, and she remained in active movie retirement in California, before moving permanently to New York. Doris did not remarry (as far as I know) and enjoyed her life in New York with old and new friends.

Doris Fesette died on April 9, 2001, in New York City.

Ruth Ownbey/Valmy

Sorry for the months long hiatus, no real reason for it, just hope to make it all up in the months to come! Anyway, Ruth Ownbey was a pretty girl who ended up as a Power Model that ended up as an actress. Sounds familiar? Of course it does, as anyone who reads this blog can ay, been there, done that. Sadly, Ruth didnd’t fare much better than most in this postion – while she did appear in several really good, if classic movies,

EARLY LIFE

Ruth Lola Amber Ownbey was born on January 24, 1922 in Asheville, North Carolina, to Robert Lee Ownbey and Mary Lee Steelman, their youngest child. Her older siblings were Elda Caroline, born on May 4, 1914, Elbert Hubbard, born on October 4, 1915, and Clara Barton, born on August 17, 1917. Her father was a professional cook.

When the Ownbeys lived in Asheville, her father operated a restaurant, and Ruth attended Monlford elementary school. When Ruth was 10 years old her parents divorced and the family moved to Fort Smith, Arkansas. In Fort Smith she attended high school, and after graduation went on to try and find some employment. An unlikely profession came to her by accident when won a contest for the most beautiful redhead, and this is how her modeling career started.

From Fort Smith she went to Dallas, Texas, where she worked as a model and thru her brother Elbert went to New York. There she worked as a Powers model for four years, her pictures becoming familiar on billboard and magazine covers. In the interim she took part in many beauty shows. Her time came in the unlikely year of 1941 (When US entered WW2). She was crowned Miss America, named Miss Rheingold (the second Miss Rheingold ever, the first one the year before was Jinx Falkenburg), and as a result had tea with Eleanor Roosevelt. Finally she was put under contract with MGM Studio. And her career started!

CAREER

Ruth always made small, uncredited role, making her a glorified extra in most cases. She made her movie debut in Du Barry Was a Lady, as Miss September, under her birth name, Ruth Ownbey. Then she got married and used her married name until 1946, when her career ended.

Like many, many girls profiled here, Ruth appeared in Up in Arms, a Danny Kaye movie. I really don’t know what more to write about it! It truly is full of beautiful starlets trying to make it in Tinsel town. Ruth was another showgirl in the aptly named Show Business, a breezy and easy Eddie Cantor/George Murphy musical. No big story, but plenty of music and dancing, in a very nice, old Hollywood way. They don’t make them like this anymore for sure! Ruth then appeared in three classics: Since You Went Away, The Woman in the Window, The Princess and the Pirate. We have a serious drama, film noir and a brawny comedy here, each very well made for it’s genre and with an enduring quality, making them immensely watchable.

After a string of such good movies, Ruth stayed somewhere mid tier. Her last 184 was Belle of the Yukon, a so-so western with Randolph Scott and Gypsy Rose Lee. I like Gypsy, so watching her movies is always watching Rose being herself, but it’s nothing to really write home about.

Ruth appeared as another Showgirl in It’s a Pleasure, a typical Sonja Henie ice skating movie. I mentioned quite a few times on this blog that I don’t quite like Sonja’s movies, they sure do have that “magical old Hollywood” touch, but I find then too one-dimensional and Sonja not a really good actress. She was a superb ice skater, that is for sure, but that hardly makes her a thespian. Ruth then appeared as a Goldwyn girl in two movies: Wonder Man and The Kid from Brooklyn. Both are Danny Kaye/Virginia Mayo classics, a joy to watch anytime, anywhere.

Ruth closed her career with Night in Paradise, a weird movie about Aesop and his life on King Croesus’ court. Yep, you heard that right, there is a movie movie where Aesop is a main character, and is played by the buff Turhan Bey! Merle Oberon plays his romantic interest, also lusted after by the King (well, nobody has seen that coming!). Ruth’s last movie was Linda, Be Good, a very obscure burlesque comedy with Elyse Knox, Marie Wilson and John Hubbard.

And that was all from Ruth!

PRIVATE LIFE

When she came to Hollywood, Ruth tried to brand herself as a former-rural-girl-gone-Hollywood, and claimed she once had a cow of her own and similar stuff. At her Hollywood peak, she had rich auburn hair, was five feet four inches tall and weighted 115 lbs.

Ruth married her first husband, Alfred Licklider, very young, at 17, on May 15, 1939, in Manhattan, New York. Alfred, born in 1913, had a four year old son when they married (from his marriage to Patricia Pattison), and worked as an advertising man. The marriage did not last however, and they divorced after she went to Hollywood in 1942. Licklider died in 1992 in New Mexico.

Ruth married her second husband, Roger Valmy, in 1943, during the war. Here is an article about their marriage:

Ruth Ownbey, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer starlet and John Power’s model, end Pvt. Roger Valmey of the DEML detachment were married at the post chapel. Chaplain George C. Pearson read the ceremony and the bride was given in marriage by Major William A. Perkins of the medical corps. The bride wore a purple crepe afternoon dress with a single strand of pearls and a short veil of white mesh accented with purple flowers. She carried a bouquet of pink and white carnations with shell pink ribbon streamers. Attending the couple were Lieut. Wright of the 91st infantry division and Mrs. Wright. As the couple left the altar the guard of honor formed an arch of guns beneath which they passed is they walked down the aisle. They received congratulations from friends In the vestibule ‘ and passed beneath the arch again to waiting cars In the street. Members of the DEML detachment who volunteered to serve as members of the guard of honor were: T. Sgt. Garth B. Farmer, commander of the guard: S. Sgts. Lester V. Anderson, Walter D. Brown, John L. Galane, Nicholas Ltwynec, Warren M. Waite, SRts. Robert C Kohlman Carrie B. Adams Battman Llveth O. F. Handel Director. The bridegroom who lived in Europe and spent many years in North Africa la now serving In the U. S. army. Mrs. Valmy appeared In “Madame du Berry” and has successfully modeled for national advertising and will continue to work In this field.

Valmy was an interesting character, born on October 6, 1912, in Cairo, Egypt. His family was in the cotton business and well of. His primary passion were horses and horse racing – he was bitten by the bug at the tender ae of 11. At the age of 15, he became editor of a racing magazine but was packed off to Paris and law school a few years later. He later became active in another family business -managing estates. Valmy came to California 1936 and began his integration into the horse racing scene and high society of Hollywood.

The Valmys divorced in the late 1940s, and Roger remarried at least twice (to Margaretta Smith and Dana K.). He worked as a managing director for several stores, and still dabbled in horse racing. In 1953, Valmy began an intensive three-year study of his idea for a stock-selling stable and in 1958 applied for permission from the Division of Corporations.  He died on August 25, 2004.

Ruth married her third husband, Franklin G. Ellerbroek, in the summer of 1950. Franklin was born on December 4, 1916, in Sheldon, Iowa, to Frank Lewis Ellerbroek and Mabel Hornstra, the youngest of three children (his sisters were Hazel and Esther). After high school he went to California, where he worked as in the production of chemical products. He served in WW2 in the Air Corps.

The Ellerbroeks settled in California. After her Hollywood and acting career ended, Ruth kept herself busy with a variety of projects, including print, real estate and interior design. She was the chairperson of the ladies division of fundraising for the Variety Club. She remained an active fundraiser for many various charities throughout her life.

Ruth and Frank lived happily until Frank’s death on November 27, 2001. Ruth continued living in Rancho Mirage, and did not remarry.

Ruth Ownbey Ellerbroek died on July 30, 2008, in Rancho Mirage, California.

Dorothy Lovett

Dorothy Lovett is a nice twist on the usual trope – she was a model who became an actress, based mostly on her looks, but before that, she was an actress who became an model because she couldn’t find thespian work. Dorothy actually had a pretty decent career in Hollywood, being prominently featured in a popular movie serial of the day, but gave up her career in order to raise family.  

Let’s learn more about her!

EARLY LIFE

Dorothy Elizabeth Lovett was born on February 15, 1913, in Providence, Rhode Island, to William Francis Lovett and Katherine E. Galligan. She was the youngest of three children and the only daughter – her siblings were William, born in 1909, and Thomas, born in 1910. Her father was a letter carrier (postman). 

Dorothy grew up in Providence in a happy family unit. She had some early stage experience, as this story can attest:

Dorothy Lovett made a false start as an actress at the age of 5, with the Albee stock company. Burton Churchill was the star, and Dorothy was the little girl who got kidnaped in Only a Woman. Looking back at it now, she regards her earlier self with awe and wonderment because little Miss Lovett was bored by show business. She also was temperamental. After about the second performance, she began to sulk in the wings and refuse to go on until bribed with a new toy a football or a fire truck or a baseball bat. One evening she embellished her role by falling down a flight of stairs in the second act. Her two idolatrous brothers in the audience dashed down the aisle to her rescue and were halted only as they were trying to clamber over the musicians.

Dorothy gave up acting for the time being, attending elementary and high school, and devoting her time to becoming a top notch athlete. She became a typical tomboy, spending a great deal of her time in treetops, hacked off all her hair to be more mobile. Pretty soon, she was the fastest broken-field runner in her neighborhood. Her life changed one day in high school, when she was struck on the larynx by a hard-hit baseball. She fainted from the shock, and afterwards decided to change lanes in life once more. 

After she graduated from high school, Dorothy started to attend Pembroke college, and there she got some feminine touches. She got back into acting again –  she didn’t have any interest in the matter until, by pure chance, she got a speaking part in a little theater play, and slowly, bit by bit, upped the scale.  She did some summer theater, and ultimately decided to try her hand in showbiz for a living. After graduation, not being able to secure acting roles, she worked as a model. In a strange twist of fate, her first job was conducting a recipe program on the air. Dorothy at the time couldn’t cook, but she developed such a convincing manner on her cooking program that thousands’ of listeners would rush to their kitchens and do just what she told them. Pretty soon Dorothy progressed to a program about fashions, which she really knew something about. As time went by, Dorothy became a very successful model – she was voted the most beautiful model in New York City in 1940/41. 

All the while, she tried getting roles but failed. Finally she heard about an interview for John Powers models that RKO was holding. The fact that she was not a Powers model did not deter her. The movie scouts saw her, liked what they saw, and she got her RKO contract. Thus her career started! 

CAREER

Dorothy started her career with Twelve Crowded Hours, a very minor Lucille Ball movie, a crime comedy by genre. In fact, it’s hardy a Lucy movie at all, although she does play the leading female role, she is relegated to being a second banana to the leading man, Richard Dix, a reported who’s tracing Lucy’s wayward brother. Nothing special,  not bad but not really memorable. Next came something a bit more impressive – The Story of Vernon and Irene Castle, one of the Rogers/Astaire pairings. What to say, these movies are classics and remain a staple of the genre and 1930s in general. Then came The Flying Irishman,  an unusual movie where aviator Douglas Corrigan stars as himself “accidentally” flying across the ocean to Ireland. Corrigan got some fame in 1938 when this happened, and the movie was made in to cash that fame, since Corrigan is hardly known today, except to hard-core enthusiast. Corrigan, who was not a thespian by any stretch of imagination (albeit in possession of an easy, affable charm), was supported by an able body of RKO staples – Paul Kelly, Donald McBride, Robert Armstrong… 

Dorothy then appeared in Fixer Dugan, a Lee Tracy/Peggy Shannon teaming, where they play a couple of circus people who develop a deep affection for orphaned girl, played by Virginia Wielder, whose mother just died in an aerial accident. Tracy was a specific actor who excelled playing smooth talking conman with slight traces of morality, and he’s always tops playing those roles, no matter the movie or the story. As you can guess, he plays the fixer. The movie was sadly a B class affair, and Peggy Shannon was not the greatest of all leading ladies, but she is cute and pert, Virginia is perky and heartwarming, and we get to see how a circus lived in the 1930s. Dorothy’s last uncredited role before breakthrough was in These Glamour Girls, a biting social satire disguised as a frilly upper class comedy. Lew Ayres plays a preppy boy who, by drunken design, invites a taxi dancer to his all-too-snobbish elite school and she unintentionally causes havoc. This is a role I think Lana Turner played best – naughty but nice independent woman who fight for themselves and know their way around men. She was very often miscast as a upper class lady – she never was and could never be one, she just didn’t’ have the sheen, but had plenty of other attributes. The cast is outstanding, Turner, Ayres, Ann Rutherford, Anita Louise, Billie Burke.  

Dorothy’s claim to fame was her role in the Dr. Christian series of movies, where she played nurse Judy in five movies – Meet Dr. Christian, The Courageous Dr. Christian, Dr. Christian Meets the Women,Remedy for Riches, They Meet Again. Whoever loves medical series will probably like this more wholesome and slightly naïve take on the profession. Christian is played by Jean Hersholt, and his support is  good – Robert Baldwin, Edgar Kennedy, and a string of players from the RKO supporting roster. 

Between Dr. Christian movies, Dorothy appear in an odd-RKO feature. The first one was That’s Right – You’re Wrong, a Kay Kyser vehicle, where Kyser plays himself trying to make it in Hollywood. The plot is very thin, but the music is nice if you like Kyser, and there are some good supporting players – Adolphe Menjou, May Robson, Lucille Ball. Next Dorothy had a role in the movie serial The Green Hornet Strikes Again! – about the legendary Green Hornet character. 

Dorothy played a prominent role in Lucky Devils, a completely forgotten movie that doesn’t even have a summary on IMDB. Luckily, her next movie, Look Who’s Laughing, was better known, featuring Fibber McGee and Molly and Edgar Bergen. It’s a typical silly comedy, but for anyone who loves either the McGees or Charlie McCarthy will enjoy it immensely. More nostalgia than art, but who’s asking? 

Dorothy had an okay role in Call Out the Marines but it didn’t really help her career. As one reviewer perfectly wrote in IMDB: “The tail end of McLagen and Lowe’s adventures as Flagg and Quirt from WHAT PRICE GLORY (the names are marginally changed) is a piece of production line entertainment that turns the battling buddies into Abbott & Costello substitutes complete with another undercranked chase for a finale”. Too bad, those were two very talented actors. Sing Your Worries Away was another comedy, just this time with Bert Lahr and his own very specific brand of funny. You either like or don’t like him – his movies are mostly just for those who like him. 

Next up – Powder Town, a  low budget movie in it’s own category. Perhaps it can be called a SF-comedy-propaganda movie, it mixes a few genres so it’s impossible to really mark it down into one. Edmund O’Brien, who later in his career became a top class noir actor, plays against type here – he’s a scatterbrained, nutty scientist working on a secret formula for explosives. Then add some spies into the mix, and the fact that O’Brien is hot commodity, desired by all the women who live in his hotel. Vic McLagen plays his brawling sidekick, and he’s as good as always in such roles. Dorothy’s last RKO movie was The Mantrap, a very witty and funny mystery movie, with Henry Stephenson playing a Sherlock Holmes-like detective solving a murder. Lloyd Corrigan, known today as a B western hero, plays his Watson substitute, and the two make a dandy and very appealing companions. Too bad they didn’t make a movie serial out of it. 

Dorothy gave up her RKO contract to get married. She gave acting another go in the 1950s, appeared in TV series, and made another movie in 1960, Why Must I Die?, a weird little Debra Paget movie, conceived as a critique of capital punishment. 1950s brought with them an unusual genre (which did exist before, but not so prominently) – the sleazy, lurid movie, usually featuring young actors and actresses, often bordering on camp. Why must I die is one of those movies, a late 1950s relic, with little to recommend it except the over-the-top story and acting.

Dorothy’s last movie was one of her best, A Patch of Blue. The leads, Sidney Poitier and Elizabeth Hartman are both excellent in their roles – she plays a blind young woman, neglected and abused by her rough mother (played by Shelley Winters), and he is a idealistic African American teacher – she slowly falls for him without knowing his skin color, and when her mother finds out, all hell breaks loose. A very relevant movie, even today, with wonderful performances and plenty of positive subtext, it’s truly a 1960s classic. 

And that was it from Dorothy! 

PRIVATE LIFE 

Dorothy was famous in Hollywood for her good looks, and Motion Picture Fan Club voted her the most beautiful girl in B pictures. She was good friends with fellow actress Margaret Hayes.

In 1940 Dorothy started to date Jack Hively, best known as Gloria Swanson’s director. The got engaged in 1941 and planned to wed that December, but  Hively’s enlistment in the Army Signal Corps and they had to change plans. In the end they married on St. Patrick’s Day, March 17, 1942, in Patterson Field, where Hively was stationed. The base was decorated with many lovely flower arrangements to make it more in sync for a wedding revenue. Now something about the groom. Jack Besden Hively was born on September 5, 1910, in Denver, Colorado, to George and Georgenie Hively. His father was an Academy Award-nominated editor, and his brother, George Jr., would become a television editor. Jack grew up in an artistical environment, and when his family moved to California, he decided to go into showbiz himself. He worked at RKO from 1933, first as a editor, then, starting in 1939, as a director. 

The couple were pressed for time – since Dorothy was working at RKO, she was given two weeks off to get married and have a honeymoon, So they decided to honeymoon in vicinity of Patterson Field.  Dorothy cut short her honeymoon and rushed hack to the coast to tell her sailor brother goodbye— only to find him gone when she got here. See then returned to established a permanent home in Osborn. Hively started working with the training film unit of the signal corps place. 

Hively later served under General MacArthur in the Pacific Theater, all the while Dorothy worked back home and was active in the war effort, selling bonds and touring. After Jack was discharged from the army, he returned to Hollywood, where the couple settled permanently. Their daughter Katherine Gordon Hively was born on December 8, 1945. Dorothy took some time off to devote herself to family life and only occasionally returned to acting. 

Hively and Dorothy divorced in the mid 1950s, about 1955, and Hively later remarried, in 1958, to Muriel Bixby. He died on December 19, 1995, in California

Dorothy chose not to remarry, remained living in California, and retired to Sherman Oaks, where she spent her golden years. 

Dorothy Hively died on April 28, 1998, in Sherman Oaks, California

Margaret Landry

Pretty and charming southern girl who came to Hollywood via the pageantry route, Margaret Landry actually had a solid starter career, and perhaps could have been a contended if she stuck to her guns. However she married and left Tinsel town, and that was that! Let’s learn more about her! 

EARLY LIFE 

Margaret Eileen Landry was born on October 2, 1922, in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, to Lawrence and Ada Maya Landry. She was the youngest of three children. Her older siblings were Katherine and Larry. Her father was a medical doctor with his own practice. 

Maggie grew up in a loving family environment in Baton Rouge, and attended Baton Rogue High school. While she did have a knack for singing and acting, she never seriously considered those as her future vocations, graduating high school, enrolled into Louisiana State University. A sunny brunette with a wide wmile, Margaret bloomed into a stunning girl and when she entered LSU, she was noticed all around by everyone. In 1940, she won out over all other coeds as “Darling of L. S. U.” and her picture was featured in the beauty section of the Gumbo, student yearbook. The same year she was selected by the Kansas City Southern Railroad to be Miss Southern Belle. 

Then, in 1941, came her moment of destiny. Margaret was Selected from over 5,000 entries in a nation-wide contest as the  “Sweater Girl of 1941,”. Her award $500 in cash and a trip to New York. The competition was sponsored by a leading knitwear association with the purpose of finding the Ideal American girl dressed in the most typical American garb – a tissue-knit sweater and skirt. The campaign was very much a large publicity stunt, especially blown into the skies when Will Hays, the resident Hollywood censor, pronounced sweaters to b too sexy and immoral. Maggie went head first into a sweater defense. Here is an article from the event: 

Margaret Landry believes “Mr. Hays is Just silly to think sweaters are Immoral” and 6,000 American soldiers free with her. Likewise, some dozen or so hard-boiled New York photographers who In less than an hour today took more pictures of Margaret in her sweater than have been taken of Winston Churchill on his entire American visit. Margaret. 19, brunette and definitely cuddlesome, won the title America’s official sweater girl,” over 5,000 contestants in a Nation-wide competition held by a knitwear association. Her reward, besides honor and glory, v as a $500 defense bond and a 10-day Broadway whirl. Wearing a sweater is really patriotic,” Margaret said in a heavy southern drawl she comes from Baton Rouge, La. “because it pleases the soldiers.” To prove her point Margaret hauled out a batch of fan mail, about 5,000 letters she received from soldiers, sailors and marines, far and near, since her contest victory was announced a few weeks ago. “I get hundreds like this almost every day,” she said, picking out one at random. Sgt. T. E. Wells, Camp Beauregard. La., “on behalf of the whole darn camp.” discussed Margaret and her sweaters for three paragraphs and concluded: “Girls as beautiful as you make this country worth fighting for.” “You see,” Margaret said. “the soldiers are right. Mr. Hays Is Just silly to think sweaters immoral. 1 Nobody can say college girls are immoral and every college girl has a closet full of sweaters.” . “I’m really grateful to him, though,” she added. “If he hadn’t stirred up the fuss about sweaters, nobody would

Well, if this wasn’t enough for Hollywood to notice, I don’t know what was, and the point is Hollywood did notice her, and she got a contract and started her career in 1942. 

CAREER

Maggie’s first movie was The Falcon Strikes Back, one of the Falcon movies. In fact, Maggie appeared in three Falcon movies overall, the other two being The Falcon and the Co-eds and The Falcon Out West. What to say about these works – if you like episodic serial movies with a charming and slick main character, and light and fun plot, but no big emotional impact not any real artistical merit, than Falcon is good enough for anybody. A special plus is that Falcon was played by Tom Conway, George Sander’ brother, and I really really love Sanders as an actor!

Then she appeared in Mexican Spitfire’s Blessed Event, one of the Mexican Spitfire movie. Anyone who fancies fiery senoritas like Lupe Velez, and the adventures and misadventures of her and her comedic entourage (Leon Errol among them), can probably consider this a minor comedy classic. Maggie’s next, The Fallen Sparrow, is an interesting WW thriller/proto noir, with John Garfield and Maureen O’Hara, about a man trying to solve the murder of a benefactor who helped her escape a concertation camp. One more uncredited part came in The Iron Major, the so-so drama with Pat O’Brien playing a football coach who goes blind after returning from WW1. O’Brien is always very good in his roles, but the movie isn’t particularly interesting, like many biopics from that time that aimlessly go from one scene to another. 

Perhaps Maggie’s most memorable role came in The Leopard Man, where she played Teresa Delgado. If Margaret is remembered at all by the movie community today, it’s mostly become of her work on this movie. Made by master director Jacques Tourneur, it’s a gripping, visceral and terrifying psychological horror with an incredible atmosphere of danger and impending doom. No blood necessary – that’s how the masters did it.  

Maggie got her leading lady role in The Adventures of a Rookie, a dismal comedy patterned after the then popular military comedy genre, spearheaded by Abbott and Costello. As one reviewer wrote, Alan Carney and Wally Brown play two clowns who do stupid stuff once they are drafted into the army. While this worked with Abbott and Costello, it just doesn’t work here. If Maggie hoped to secure herself a movie serial like some other actresses, she was sadly mistaken – this was it. The movie did not do good business, and the comedic duo just melted away. Maggie got one more uncredited role – in Gildersleeve on Broadway. Based on based on radio show The Great Gildersleeve, it’s a mildly amusing comedy with the colorful Harold Peary as the titular character, and Billie Burke plays support (love that woman!)

Maggie’s career took a bit of a nosedive afterwards. Gangway for Tomorrow, a typical WW2 propaganda piece about five women who all work in the same factory. It’s actually not a bad film and illustrates the psychological state of US in the early 1940s very well, but perhaps it’s not as interesting to today’s audiences as it was back then (this is the downfall of most propaganda movies). Then came Government Girl, an okay comedy about a naïve senator (Sunny Tufts) who gets schooled by his secretary, played by Olivia de Havilland, about the way thing work in Washington. 

In 1944 there was Bride by Mistake, a predictable but ultimately fun comedy about a independent career woman (played by Laraine Day), who becomes, as the title says, a bride by mistake (the groom is Alan Marshal). Maggie than had a lightly more visible role in Mademoiselle Fifi, which is an interesting movie all around. Based on a novel by Guy de Maupassant, it does tackle, albeit in a very non-subtle way, some very relevant moral questions. It does have WW2 propaganda movie shades as all Germans in movie are shown in a rather negative light (Mademoiselle Fifi is nickname for a German man, and you guess why!). Our heroin is played by Simone Simon, an unique actress that was not really well used by Hollywood. Their loss! 

Youth Runs Wild is an WW2 propaganda, plus teen movie. While the teen genre would only spark up in the 1950s, there were traces of it before, like this movie – but it’s far from being a memorable film. It’s a very heavy-handed movie, literary ramming it’s messages right into the viewers brain. The cast is also nothing exceptional – Bonita Granville and Kent Smith are okay, but rather bland overall. Then came Girl Rush, another Carney/Brown comedy, just this time Maggie wasn’t in the leading female role (the dubious honor goes to songbird Frances Langford). Maggie’s last movie was Having Wonderful Crime, a funny crime romp about a lawyer and two newlyweds get mixed up in mock mystery at a resort. Probably worth watching just to see the lovely Carole Landis. 

And that was it from Maggie! 

PRIVATE LIFE 

Margaret seemed like an easy going, happy-go-lucky southern girl who landed in Hollywood more due to luck than any real design. She was very close to her family and enjoyed nothing better than having coffee and breakfast in bed while home in Baton Rouge. Like many southerners, Maggie was a gourmand, and this put her at odds, slightly, with the Hollywood brass, as this article can attest: 

Margaret Landry, the charming R.K.O. menace, was asked by her studio to keep her figure as is, and not indulge in starchy foods. One day recently, a producer came into the RICO. dining room, and spied Margaret Indulging in a creamy hit of fluff. That is not cricket.” said the producer. Margaret looked up and said, “Not even this light desert? You make it sound as if a girl becomes a great actress On the cricket fields of eatin’.”

Margaret’s brother Larry Jr. died in Bali during the war. He was in the air force. Even before this tragic occurrence, Maggie was very active in the war effort work. She was so popular that U. S. fliers in the South Pacific called their sweaters “Maggies” in her honor. Here is a short article about this:

Margaret Landry is a lovely flower from Louisana. She won national attention as a “sweater girl” (for good reasons, plural) .’. and,, given the fight breaks, should make a name for herself . She deserves the breaks, too, if she does many such nice acts as one , I shall now describe. At a party, she overheard six air cadets lamenting the fact that they had missed the last bus to camp, and would have to hitch-hike thirty five miles. Whereupon Miss ‘ Landry loaned them her car, which is quite a favor these days. Next morning, it was returned, together with a large box of candy. What makes this story more poignant is the fact that Margaret lost her brother in air battles over New Guinea. 

Maggie married her Baton Rogue sweetheart, James Alexander Moore, who served in the US Air Force during WW2. After he came back from the war, she gave up movies and moved to Houston with him. They raised four children together: Michael, Larry, Candance and Susan. In the end, Maggie found true happiness not in Hollywood, but in Texas. She was active in local civic activities, volunteering many hours at the Hermann Hospital and was a member of the Houston Junior League. She and James continued living in Houston, where he died sometime in the 1990s.

Margaret Landry Moore died on April 22, 2005, in Amarillo, Texas

Luana Lee

Luana Lee was a very pretty girl who was literary born into acting – she came from a theatrical family, was on the stage from the age of 2 and considered a very talented child actress. Then she came to Hollywood after high school, with hopes of continuing her lucky strike. Sadly nothing much happened, and her career was over in a few short years. Let’s learn more about her!

EARLY LIFE

Luana Lee Mehlberg was born on October 11, 1935 in Pasadena, California, to Ernest Mehlberg and Dorothy Meilbeck. Luana was sadly not the first Luana Lee Mehlerg – her older sister with the same moniker was born on September 10, 1934, but died at only a month old on October 12, 1934. Her father, who was about 45 years old when Luana was born, was wed twice previously but had no children.

Luana’s parents had long experience as dramatic teachers in such well-known schools as the Meglin Kiddies. In 1938 the Mehlbergs left for Detroit, Michigan, to establish their own dramatic and dancing school. Both Ernest and Dorothy were Michigan natives so it was like a homecoming for them. Luana was thus just 3 when she made her theatrical debut as the Christ Child in a Christmas pageant.

Luana became her parent’s star pupils during some 10 years they conducted the dramatic school in Detroit, where she also attended elementary school. But Luana was fired with ambition to become a movie star and returned to California in 1949. From then on, things began to happen. Luana enrolled at Hollywood High School because she had heard how Lana Turner was once a pupil there and how other girls had gone on from there to film fame. After a year, she left to enter the Hollywood Professional School.

Before she left Hollywood High she was called to MGM for a bit role as Janet Leigh’s sister in “Rosika the’ Rose” and an episode in “It’s a’ Big Country”. She appeared in little theaters and summer stock. After graduating from Professional School she worked two weeks in a department store sportswear department. Then a friends of hers, who had become head dispatcher of MGM messengers, called Luana to fill a messenger vacancy.

While she was a messenger in MGM, a stroke of good luck happened. Producer Arthur Freed saw screen possibilities in her and arranged for Gene Kelly to star in a test with her and also ty directed it. A contract resulted for Luana who then was given roles in two musicals “It’s Always Fair Weather” and “Kismet”.

And her career started!

CAREER

Luana appeared in seven MGM features. Her first three were prestigious, high-budget musicals – however, this was the end of the golden age of musicals, and the movies show. Gone were the days of American in PAris and Rinsing in the rain – things were happening that were not kind to the movie musical genre. As in most cases on this page, Luana was uncredited in all of her movies.

Anyway, Luana’s first movie was It’s Always Fair Weather, bit of a more mature musical, a spiritual successor to the immensely popular on the Town. Three soldiers meet again after some years of being apart and slowly start to realize they have nothing in common. Three tio was played by Gene Kelly, Michael Kidd and Dan Dailey. Interesting cinematography, great dancing, good music, a bit more sombre story than usual – its still a musical with no great depth, but it’s definitely not bad. Plus there is Cyd Charisse to look at 🙂

THe next musical, Kismet, is very well made but never achieved a level of fame like other musicals. This Baghdadian fable with grand wiziers, harem dancers and beggar kings was helmed by Vincente Minnelli and based on a stage play which was re-made into a Broadway musical. The movie oversimplifies some things but adds plenty of others for some colorful, oriental entertainment. The cast is singularly MGM 1950s bonanza – Howard Keel, Ann Blyth, Dolores Gray, Vic Damone… Nope, they are not Kelly and Astaire, but they were all very good singers and dancers. Music is based on Russian composer Borodin’s work, so it’s an very good update to the 20th century.

Luana’s third musical was Meet Me in Las Vegas – basic plot with nothing special to recommend it (a gambler and ballerina get lucky in gambling under special circumstance), but with great dancing by the leads and some nice music. Plus Lena Horne! She was a dream!

Luana was then moved to other kinds of MGM movies. The first was The Fastest Gun Alive, a very interesting western with an unusually story, low budget, but superbly made, without a lost second. Glenn Ford, never a great actor, is actually very good as a timid shopkeeper with a secret history who’s coerced into robbing a bank. Broderick Crawford plays the bully who manhandles him, and he’s simply perfect in these larger-than-life roles. Then came These Wilder Years, a low-key drama with James Cagney and Babs Stanyck. It deals with some very serious issues, and doesn’t have a leading man/lady romance, which I find very refreshing!

Afterwards came The Opposite Sex, a tame remake of The Women, a so-so comedy with some good performances (Dolores Gray!), but overall nothing special. Her last movie was Raintree County, an interesting movie, and for more than one reason. However heavy handed and with a sloppy script, it’s worth seeing to see Liz Taylor and Monty Clift together again.

And that as it from Luana!

PRIVATE LIFE

She is 5 feet 7 inches weighs 120 pounds and has blonde hair and hazel eyes. When she was under contract to MGM, she did as all starlets did – got themselves into the papers with engineered romances. In 1954 thus Luana had a studio backed relationship with young hopeful Russ Tamblyn.

Luana ended her contract to MGM and and began freelancing, with some success in the beginning, as she had been chosen out of 200 aspirants to appear in the musical version of “Seventeen” at the Beverly Hills Playhouse. However, other things started to occupy her mind and acting would soon slip into obscurity.

Yes, for all the hubaloo over her burning desire to act and how she was literary born a thespian, Luana gave acting and Hollywood up and in 1959 married George V. Clark in Las Vegas, Nevada. This proved to be the right choice for her – they remained happily married.

The couple had six children: Christoph, born on January 18, 1960, Matthew, born on December 4, 1961, Daniel, born on March 13, 1963, Johnathan, born on July 21, 1964, Jason, born on September 30, 1966, and Christia, born on August 10, 1968.

Luana and her family lived in Orange, California, and allegedly dabbed in pet care.

Luan Lee Clark is still alive today, as always, I hope she has a happy life!

 

Hester Dean

Hester Dean was a very famous model who hit Hollywood mostly due to her looks. Perhaps there could have been some kind of a career for her, at least as a supporting actress, but she married and effectively left movies the same year she entered them. Let’s learn more about her!

EARLY LIFE

Hester Deane Jones was born on March 22/23, 1909, in Sapulpa, Creek, Oklahoma to William Edgar Jones and Bessie Jones. She was the oldest of three daughters – her younger sisters were Melba, born on May 17, 1912, and Lola, born on June 12, 1914. Her father was a professional carpenter, doing house work.

The family moved to Wetumka, Oklahoma when Hester was a small child, and she attended elementary school there. Sadly Hester’s mother Bessie died in 1917. Edgar remarried to Nynn Lister in 1920, and the whole family went to live in Oklahoma City, where Hester attended high school.

Hester was a beautiful young woman who decided upon a modeling career after graduating high school. She became a very successful model, moved to New York, and appeared in hundreds of advertisements in national newspapers and magazines. Her claim to fame was becoming ‘The Girl with the Fisher Body‘ after modeling for the Fisher Automobile Company.

At some point in the early 1930s, Hester made the trek overseas to see Europe and settled in London for a time. While living there, she was offered a film contract by Alexander Korda , but turned it down, and decided to go to Hollywood. And so it was! In 1935, she got her chance.

CAREER

Hester was chosen as one of the Glorified American Girls for Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer’s “The Great Ziegfeld.”, and that proved to be her only movie.

Now is a movie that needs no introduction, a absolute classic that holds up more than well today. The best Picture Oscar winner. The story is pure Hollywood unrealistic biography, but it’ not that much about the story as it is about the sets, choreographies, and over-all lavish and luxurious feel. The ever suave William Powell plays Ziegfeld. Powell is a tour de force in any movie he appears in, and playing the Great Ziegfeld did him no harm! Myrna Loy as his partner is that comes so naturally that it’s weird when they are not in the same movie! Louise Rainer won an well deserved Oscar for playing Ziegfeld’s lover Anna Held.

And that’s it from Hester!

PRIVATE LIFE

Hester was chosen as one of the Glorified American girls in 1936. What is a Glorified American girl? Read for yourself.

Hester Dean was not one of the originals. But she has impressive qualifications to play the beautiful “Dolores.” Miss Dean posed for those stunning girls in the Fisher Body ads. She is 5 feet, 7 ‘ inches tall and weighs 122 rounds. She has 34-inch bust, a 26-inch waist and- oh, enviable miracle her hips are encompassed by just 34 inches of tape measure. Her shoe size is 6.

Hester’s love life was a bit tempestuous but wrapped up nicely in the end. In about 1934, she eloped for the first time with James F. Lewis, New York socialite and heir to spark plug millions. The marriage did not last, and the divorced in 1935.

Just when you thought that drama was over and done, guess again! They eloped once more, after their previous marriage was annulled. They took an airplane to Yuma and were married by Judge Kelly. She gave her age as 26 year (which was correct, so rare in Hollywood). The groom was a year older at 27.

James Freeland Lewis was born on May 25, 1908 in Manhattan, New YOrk to wealthy family. His father James Lewis, was a member of the New York Stock Exchange. James Jr. had a Park avenue penthouse (and by his virtue of his ancestry, was one of the famous “400” social luminaries of New York), as well as a property in Westport, Connecticut.

The couple spent their honeymoon in a Palm Springs cottage. With this act, Hester became one of Two of M-G-M’s socially prominent showgirls, the other being Patricia Havens- Monteagle of San Francisco. Sadly, Hester decided to quite movie not long after, and Hollywood became a distant memory.

After living for a time in Beverly Hills, the Lewis family went to live in Maumee, Ohio (not far from Toledo), where their only child, a son, James Fielding Lewis, was born on September 29, 1939. In 1940 they lived in a house with three servants. The also purchased a farm in Albemarle County, Virginia, and grew horses there.

Hester and her husband were involved in the local social scene, and hosted many lavish cocktails parties and dinners. This high-brow life continued until 1968, when Hester and James divorced after 33 years of marriage. Why? Well, become James fell in love and married Elizabeth Love Starcher. He and Liz divorced in the 1970s, and he married again in 1977 to Rosemary Rinehart. He died in 1982.

Hester moved to Miami, Florida and lived there for the rest of her days.

Hester Jones died on May 11, 1970 in Miami, Florida.

Kay McCoy

 

Kay McCoy was marketed as a socialite who wanted a Hollywood career not to have a day job but because she wanted to be a star and taste the actor’s life. While this was only marginally true, Kay ended up like most girls in that predicament – in uncredited roles, with a career lasting for only a few years. 

EARLY LIFE 

Catherine Virginia McCoy was born on August 7, 1913, in Dallas, Texas, to Frederick Lee McCoy and Theresa Mantooth. Her younger brother Frederick Franklin was born on June 19, 1916. Kay’s father was a well-known Western banker. For many years he was president of the Wichita Falls National Bank and later he organized the Bankers’ Reserve in Denver, Colorado. Kay’s family was considered socially prominent, and she herself was a budding socialite/debutante.  

Kay attended the prestige Mrs. Wood’s Private School in Wichita Falls and later went to the Fairfield School in Denver in the early 1920s. When the family moved to California due to the Great depression in the late 1920s, she attended and graduated from the Hollywood High School in 1931. 

The papers claimed Kay’s father was a top money maker, but it seems that when the family came to California, his fortunes, while not bad, were not lavish either. He worked as a newspaper editor and earned about 2000$ a year, which is more middle class than upper class. Kay in the meantime broke into movies in 1934, and her career started! 

CAREER

Kay appeared in six movies during her Hollywood tenure. Her first movie was Come On, Marines!. It could have been a great movie about marines fighting a dirty, dirty war but ended up a totally mid tier war-in-the-jungle effort with no big merit to it. At least you can see a very young Ida Lupino in it. Her next movie was Broadway Bill, a charming, heart-warming Frank Capra movie about a race horse, the eponymous Broadway Bill. Myrna Loy and Warren Bayter play the main couple who join force to make Broadway Bill a champ. Whoever loves Capra will like this movie, it has all the typical Capraesque moments. 

Kay got her one leading role in a… You guessed it, a low budget western!!! The name was Tombstone Terror, the cowboy star was Bob Steele, and it’s a action packed movie with a flimsy story. It also features Gaby Hayes, who was a very popular Western sidekick. Kay got some publicity for this, appearing in papers often in 1935, but then she got pregnant and took a hiatus to give birth to her daughter.  

She returned to movies in 1936, but it seems that her leading role in Tombstone Terror did nothing for her career. Namely, she was cast in an uncredited role in Our Relations, one of the best Laurel and Hardy movies, about two set of long lost twins who get together with dramatic and funny results. However, Kay was almost invisible, and Kay’s last movie was another Lauren/Hardy combo, Swiss Miss. Sadly the movie is not highly regarded among fans, as it features irritating singing parts and a very convoluted plot, which only detracts from our favorite duo!  

And that’s it from Kay!  

PRIVATE LIFE 

Kay was sold as another poor little rich girl who entered the movies as slumming more than much needed work. Here is a typical article from 1933: 

Society belle this Monday was preparing to depart from social activities and enter films in an effort to win stardom. She was pretty Kay McCoy daughter of Fred McCoy, a Wichita Falls Texas and Denver banker. Although educated in private schools Miss McCoy had ideas of he own on the subject of a career in motion picture, and on Monday she was preparing to go work in a minor role,

As I noted above, while her father was wealthy perhaps in Wichita Falls and Denver, where he worked as a banker, he wasn’t’ that well off in California, so this was an inflated story, but it did work to try and push Kay into the public’s perception sphere. 

Kay never made waves for he private life, and you know why – she was already a Mrs. when she landed in Hollywood in 1933! Her husband was George Kline Davison, whom she married in about 1932 in Los Angeles.  

George was born on February 20,1915, to John Robert Davison and Alta Mae Flach in Appleby, Texas. He moved to California in the 1930s and became an automobile sales manager. The family lived in Los Angeles while both worked at their prospective jobs. Their daughter Barbara Kay was born on November 30, 1935. 

Kay’s career was over by 1938, and it seems that Davison did not take his family too seriously, so money was lacking. In need of some funds, Kay, hailed as a rich socialite just a few years earlier in the papers, became a hosiery saleslady. I find Kay very strong and impressive here – she took care of herself and her little daughter as well as she could, without the input of an obviously errant husband. This behaviors resulted in her marriage disintegrating, her going to live with her parents, and ultimately divorce in 1940. She won the divorce on the on testimony that she waited two years for George to straighten out and he failed. She was granted custody of their daughter Barbara. 

It seems that Davison did not remarry, and died on March 1, 1970 in Sacramento. Kay marched on into the 1940s, working and raising her daughter in Los Angeles. 

Kay married Howard Montez Harrington on December 24, 1951. Howard was born in 1904 in Montana. He moved to California, attended the University of California at Los Angeles and became connected with a New York newspaper. In 1933 he married Edith Wallop,  graduate of Anaheim Union High school  who became a member of the teachers’ training staff and the head advisor for all the Girl Scouts in Los Angeles. She died in 1949, making him a widower. 

 Kay and Howard lived in quietly in Los Angeles until Harrington’s retirement, when they moved to Monterey. Howard died there on January 6, 1987. Kay continued living in Monterey, outliving Howard by only a year. 

Kay Harrington died on January 24, 1988, in Monterey, California