Tut Mace

Tut Mace was a kind of girl that we only sometimes see in Hollywood – girls born to dance, girls who danced become they felt a passion for it, notfor the money and fame. Pretty, talented and a seasoned pro by the time she was 20, Tut was a good match for Tinsel Town, but her career there was brief and not notable, so she took up the dancing circuits and had much success. A stormy marriage and possible alcoholism sadly overshadowed her dancing abilities.

EARLY LIFE

Katharine May Tut Mace was born on January 26, 1913 in Los Angeles, California, to Lloyd Russell Mace and Katherine G. Higgins. She was their only child. Her father was a medical doctor, then a local practitioner – he later became an official physician of the Olympic auditorium (State Athletic Commission to be more precise).

From early childhood, it was obvious that Tut was extremely talented in kinetics, dancing included, so he parents, fully supportive, tried to do everything to help her develop this talent. She was sent to several of the leading dancing schools and she took private lessons with trained of movement with acrobatic ability. She was also a Girl Scout troop leader.

Her first real showbiz experience was appearing in the local annual pastiche of dancers, dancing what was known then as a “different” acrobatic dance. Day by day she honed her skill and blossomed into a highly talented dancer. She made waves before she hit 18 – here is an example article about her early career days:

In the success scored by Lupino Lane’s new Hollywood Music Box revue, which opened to a capacity audience Tuesday night, the star-producer has not overlooked home talent. He points with pride to Tut Mace, the little dancer who registered the opening night. Little Miss Mace, is just 16 years of age, born in Los Angeles, and received all of her dance instruction here. She is the daughter of Dr. Lloyd Mace, official physician of the Olympic auditorium, and local practitioner. Although Miss Mace is so young, she has already been featured in several acts in vaudeville, and has danced in them as far East as Chicago. Her acrobatic talent is described as bringing exclamation of wonder from Music Box audiences.

Tut danced all over the US, including the prestigious Tabor Theater in Denver, where she joined the Fanchon and Marco “Hollywood Collegians” idea. And not long after, she did land in Hollywood. Pretty soon, she became very popular in Hollywood as a dancer, and was developing so rapidly…

CAREER

Sadly, for such a talented dancer, tut appeared in so few movies – only three! Her first two movies were the Three Stooges shorts, Hollywood Lights and The Big Idea. Since I never saw any of the Stooges shorts and known next to nothing about them nor their body of work, let’s just leave it at that.

Sadly, her only full length movie, She Was a Lady, is a completely forgotten one – little is known about it, but a sure plus is that is had Helen Twelvetrees in the lead. The plot is an outright critique of the social class divide, with Helen playing a daughter of an aristocrat and a servant lady. The plot follows her love life and striving to make something out of her mixed heritage. It actually doesn’t sound half as bad, but sadly I have no idea is anybody has watched this movie in ages.

And that was it from Tut!

PRIVATE LIFE

Tut’s private life was quite stormy and being with one very important man – Gary Leon. Leon was born on february 5, 1906, in Illinois. His family moved to Santa Monica, California when he was a boy. He was a dancer who danced with Rita Hayworth. Leon married Marion Mitchell, his dancing partner, in Detroit. The wedding was staged at the theater where they were appearing, a symphony orchestra playing Lohengrin’s Wedding March as the martial knot was tied before a large audience. And then, a year later, Tut comes into the picture. Wonder how? Here is an article about it:

Gary Leon, dancer, and former Santa Monica athlete, divorced his wife, Marion Leon, in Superior Judge Kincaid’s court yesterday because she was overly Jealous of him. “She insisted on being present in all my business dealings,” Leon testified. “She accused me of being in love with my dancing partners. Always she was out front watching me.” Asked by his attorney, Marshall Hickson, about threats of his wife to end her life, Leon replied it was just her “annual gag” to cause him further annoyance. Marcia (Tut) Mace, Leon’s dancing partner, testified that ,. Mrs. Leon’s jealousy caused Leon to be much upset and that it once resulted in their losing an engagement. The Leons were married December 14, 1933, and separated last April 1

This was not the first time Leon got some slack from the papers. He first got some infamy when he was accused by none other than  Rudy Vallee of keeping rendezvous with his then wife, Fay Webb, in New York. Leon claimed he had known Fay since she was “a little girl with pigtails,” but that he said he had not seen her. He refused to take sides in commenting on the Vallee-Webb case, remarking he was just the innocent victim caught in a cross-fire of a domestic quarrel. He didn’t want to take sides, so he gave affidavits to both sides, and was not further concerned in the matter.”

Har har har, while he was trying to paint Marion as a green-eyed monster, Gary truly was cheating on her with Tut – quite a low punch, I have to say. Just a few short weeks after his divorce, Gary and Tut announced they will be married soon at Agua Caliente. Although California law prescribed a year’s wait before either party may remarry, Leon and Tut evaded the ruling by living apart.

In contrast to Leon’s first marriage, his second wedding to Tut was performed at the Foreign club, Tijuana’s largest gambling house. They left for soon on a combination honey moon and professional tour of Europe. Another thing they kept mum was that Tut was pregnant – their daughter Andree Antoinette was born sometimes in 1935, not long after the wedding.

Leon and Tut’s marriage was a tumulus one. They danced all around the US and Europe, mostly in Great Britain. They often had stormy fights just to make up later and everything was lovely dovely. Like most such stories, the ending was not a nice one.

After a difficult marriage, they finally divorced in 1945. Even then it was a major fiasco – the court proceedings got into papers, and they were not nice. It was said Tut listed her monthly expenses at $156.50, and asked a restraining order to prevent her husband molesting her. Soon, Tut found out she was pregnant again, and gave birth to their second daughter, Pamela Mary Leon, on July 5, 1946, during their divorce proceedings. But the divorce went on as usual – it seems there was nothing that could keep the two of them together.

Tut faded from view, gave up dancing and remarried a Santa Monica businessman, Phillip Malouf.

In 1955, Tut and Gary went to the Santa Monica Superior Court to begin a legal battle over the custody of their 11-year-old daughter. The suit was heard by Judge Stanley Mosk. She was seeking custody of her daughter Pamela, who has been living with’ her father and her paternal grandmother since she and Gary were divorced years ago. Leon, then a chief of security at me Kami corp was likewise remarried by that time. Now this is truly sad: Tut’s husband Philip Malouf testified that he recently attempted the role of peacemaker between Leon and his former wife, where upon Leon went into a tirade and said he wished his former wife were dead and that he would have killed her if he thought he could get away with it. Leon had answered his ex- wife’s demand-for custody of the child and charged that she has been an alcoholic for the past seven years. Tutn, in her affidavit, said she has hot had a drink for 18 months. Judge Mosk advised the parties that he will confer with the girl prior to resumption of the hearing this morning. Sadly that was all I could find of the case, and I have no idea what happened in the end with the custody case.

To sum everything up, it seems that Gary and Tut were at odds for a long time even after that, and I can only hope they reached some sort of agreement on the custody of their daughter. One wonders what could have happened to install so much venom into their hearts.

Tut lived a quiet life in Santa Monica with her husband, and danced only for fun. But unfortunately, it seems that she could have been an alcoholic. Because, she just died too young.

Catherine “Tut” Malouf died on July 26, 1966. I have no idea when Philip Malouf died. Gary Leon died on March 30, 1988.

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Pluma Noisom

Obscure actresses are usually extras or chorus girls – so far we haven’t’ touched another large portion of the often nameless thespians – the stand ins! Not officially actors, they do all the heavy lifting for the stars, standing as the technicians set the light, cameras and so on before the scene is shot. Pluma Noisom hit her five minutes of fame as the stand in for Claudette Colbert, with whom she shared an uncanny physical similarity. Let’s learn more about her!

EARLY LIFE

Pluma Hope Noisom was born on February 14, 1913 in Detroit, Michigan, to George Frederick Noisom and Helen June Harrison. Her younger brother George Jr. was also born in Detroit on February 14, 1915. The family moved to King, Washington after George returned from serving in WW1 (in about 1919), but returned to Detroit not long after.

Pluma was a talented child who enjoyed dancing and wanted to make it her life’ vocation. Her parents, more than supportive to her wishes, decided to move to Los Angeles to further her chances to having a dancing career. They packed their bags and by 1922 were living in Los Angeles, where her younger brother Derry was born on September 22, 1923.

Pluma’s mother, by then pretty much determined to get her children into show business, changed their names to make them more theatrical. Hans J. Wollstein’s “All Movie Guide” mentions that her brother George Noisom went by the name Bubbles Noisom, and Pluma became Pluma DaVonne. Her brother appeared in the Wizard of Oz and was arguably the most successful of the siblings. Pluma started to attract attention with her dances in several films, and her career was of!

CAREER

Judging by IMDB, Pluma never had a featured role but instead was a stand in for Claudette Colbert. I don’t think this is the whole truth – it seems she was a chorus girl before she became a stand in, and she was a stand-in in more than three movies listed on the profile page. But anyway, Pluma gave up her career as a movie dancing girl to be the stand-in for Claudette, and their first movie was Cleopatra.

Pluma was Claudette’s stand in in The Gilded Lily, actually a pretty nice romantic comedy. The plot is simple enough: While its no high art, I for one like these kind of fun, sharp but still dreamy enough to be part escapism. The cast is uniformly good – Claudette, Fred MacMurray and Ray Milland.

That same year she was stand in for She Married Her Boss, another semi-comedy combined with semi-drama. Much like the Gilded Lilly, it mixes the two genres and it mixes them nicely. Overall, it’s bit uneven in the quality department (low points: the ending is downright terrible, the costumes are terrifyingly bad), but more than watchable. And I love Melvyn Douglas, he’s a tush! 

Accordign to IMDB, Pluma’s last movie was Under Two Flags, an adventure movie. The opinions are divided about this one – while it’s a solid movie overall, some thing it could have been much better – some think it’s great just the way it is. But anyway, it’s indisputable that he movie has an impressive cast (Claudette, Robert Donat, Rosalind Russell) and a good plot, taken from Ounida’s novel.

According to the papers, Pluma doubled for Claudette in some of the long shots of “Imitation of Life,” because Claudette had to start another picture, and when Claudette was ill, Pluma played in some of the faraway scenes of “Maid of Salem.”

And that was it from Pluma!

PRIVATE LIFE

Pluma married her first husband, James P. Whitaker, on July 1,4 1930, in Los Angeles. Whitaker was born on in Missouri in 1910, to Jasper Whitaker and Mary Walsh. They family moved to California in the 1920s, and James worked in Los Angeles in the cleaning business, being a salesman of cleaning fluids. The marriage was very short-lived and the divorced early the next year. Whitaker remarried in the 1930s, was drafted into WW2 in 1942 and I have no idea what happened to him afterwards.

Pluma wasted no time in finding her number two – she got remarried on September 5, 1931, in Los Angeles, to Thomas S. Peterson. Peterson was born on February 6, 1908 in New Mexico, to Charles S. Peterson and Minnie K Tudor, 12 years older than his brother Jack. After living for a time in Indiana, the family settled in California, where Thomas worked as a pharmaceutical salesman. This marriage also did not last long and was terminated before 1935. Peterson was also drafted into WW2 and died on August 25, 1988 in California.

And now, for some of the details of Pluma’s life as Claudette’s stand in. Here is a short article about her:

For seven weeks Pluma Noisom, blond “stand-in” for Claudette Colbert, has donned a heavy wig each morning because a stand-in’s hair must be the same color as the actress for which she substitutes while lights are being arranged and the set is being prepared for the filming of a sequence. But the weather has been warm and the wig uncomfortable. Today Miss Noisom appeared at the studio and returned the wig to the property department. Overnight she had become a raven-haired brunette.

In 1936, Pluma was about to get married again, but didn’t have the free days to do it. When Claudette Colbert contracted influenza and had to take a few days of production, Pluma got the few free days that  she needed. Taking advantage of this opportunity, she eloped to Riverside and married Ward Schweizer, former college athlete. The marriage was disclosed when Pluma appeared for work the next day and forgot to remove her wedding ring.

Pluma’s new intended was Ward Cotrell Schweizer, born on January 22, 1908 in Los Angeles, to John Melchior Schweizer and Hester Willson. He grew up in Los Angeles and graduated from Occidental College, where he was a member of Phi Beta Kappa and Alpha Tau Omega. He served in World War II and achieved the rank of colonel in the U.S. Army. He joined Pacific Telephone in 1930 and moved to San Francisco in 1940. He became an executive vice president and officer in the AT&T Bell System and served on the boards of Pacific Bell and Nevada Bell. After his retirement in 1972, he joined the board of telecom equipment provider Lynch Communications.

I could not find much information about Pluma and Ward’s marriage, but it seems that they had two children, two sons, John Schweizer and Marc Schweizer (born on September 17, 1947). The couple divorced in the early 1950s.

Schweizer remarried in 1958 to Constance McPherson, and they lived in Atherton, California for 45 years until his death in 2003.

Pluma allegedly remarried to a Mr. Proulx but I could not find any information about the union. She continued living in Los Angeles.

Pluma Hope Proulx died on May 22, 1981, in Los Angeles, California.

Martha Merrill

Martha Merrill was one of those girls who get to Hollywood via the dancing route, manage to climb out of the chorus pit, but sadly never amount to much. However, Martha proved her versatility when she became a professional writer after her acting days were over, and was hailed as a fine poetess! Let’s learn more about her!

EARLY LIFE

Martha Baum was born on February 22, 1916, in Fort Wayne, Indiana, to James and Pearl Baum. She was the sixth and last child – her siblings were Josephine, born in 1894, twins Mannie and James Jr., born in 1899, Samuel, born in 1904 and Pearl, born in 1909. Both of her parents were Russian immigrants and her father worked as a furniture buyer at a department store. The family was well off as they employed a servant and a nurse for the children.

The Baums moved to Chicago, Illinois by 1925, where Martha grew up. She was interested in dancing from her early teen years and seriously considered it as her future vocation.

Martha attended University High school and after graduation attended College Preparatory school of Chicago and then started to dance professionally. At some point she landed in Hollywood, but was not signed by a studio, rather she danced in the chorus as a freelancer.

Dick Powell proved to be Martha’s claim to fame. While filming Dames, a cameraman needed a girl to pose with Dick for a picture. Martha volunteered, among others. Dick picked her to assist in making a “trailer”.  Although the photograph was never used it found its way to the desk of an executive at Warner Bros studio.  He ordered a screen test for her and she so favorably impressed studio officials by her work, that she was signed under contract, and of the went!

CAREER:

Martha appeared in a string of musicals as a chorus girl – George White’s ScandalsHere Comes the Navy andDames 

Martha than appeared in a more serious movie fare – The St. Louis Kid, and The Firebird, a sly, well made but still out of the mill crime whodunit (Ricardo Cortez is the victim – he was often the victim in the 1930s!). She then appeared in another Cagney film, Devil Dogs of the Air. This one is a so-so effort, pretty weak in several important elements (story – a cocky pilot learns manners – so cliché!, characters – no real depth, Cagney is great because he plays his usual character), but with solid performers and some nice looking aerial scenes.

Martha finally got her first credit in Living on Velvet, a type of melodrama that doesn’t have a lot of plot but does have a lot of emotion. The whole movie thus rests on the shoulders of the leading actors – George Brent and Kay Francis. I like Kay, she was effortlessly charming, and find Brent a cool tall glass of water! While he could be a wooden statue at times, at other times he was like butter, so creamy and nice! Here, the two make it work, so it’s a good enough movie, worth watching once. Martha was back in the musical saddle with Gold Diggers of 1935Shipmates ForeverIn Caliente and Go Into Your Dance. They are more or less all the same, just with different actors and slightly different stories. A better musical was Show Boat, with the indomitable Irene Dunne as Magnolia.

Luckily, Martha did appear in some more substantial movies like ‘G’ Men, another early Cagney vehicle where he plays a FBI agent at the time when agents didn’t even have authority to carry firearms, Don’t Bet on Blondes, a shallow romantic comedy with Gene Raymond and Claire Dodd, the delightful and puffy Personal Maid’s Secret, a very well done B movie with Ruth Donnelly and Margaret Lindsay set in Park avenue (very interesting to see how Park Avenue people lived in the 1930s – a great time piece!), and Nobody’s Fool, a solid Edward Everett Horton comedy about a country bumpkin who comes to the big city.

The rest of Martha’s filmography was covered by mediocre comedies: They Met in a Taxi, a Chester Morris brain-dead comedy (but still a fun one), Cain and Mabel, a lukewarm pairing of two acting greats, Marion Davies and Clark Gable (they could do better for sure), The Cowboy Star, which luckily is not a western just has a cowboy in the name, and More Than a Secretary, a Jean Arthur movie that’s far from her best work.

Martha’s last movie was perhaps the best one she appeared in, and most certainly my own favorite – History Is Made at Night. This incredible, dream like movie won’t leave you indifferent – and how could it when it pairs Jean Arthur with Charles Boyer, along with a special favorite of mine, Colin Clive (what a shame that he did too little movies!).

That was it from Martha!

PRIVATE LIFE

Martha was famous for her shapely gams. She was selected by none other than Busby Berkeley, dance director, as the possessor of Hollywood’s most beautiful legs. Martha’s thigh measured eighteen and one half inches, calf thirteen and a half and ankle seven inches.

Martha was a writer from her early teens, and even when she was an actress, she looked for any writing outlets she could find. During the 1930s, a Beverly Hills magazine published her poem, Heart Flutter.

She was also chosen as the perfect showgirl in her prime. Here is an article about it:

She’s Martha Merrill back home in Ft. Wayne, Ind. as the “ideal type” out of 200 dancers. Miss Merill is five feet five, weighs 115 pounds, has a waist measurement of 26 inches, an eight-inch ankle and “midnight blue” hair. , Prinz, a director, said the American movie public decided on the changed style in beauty and helped him select Miss Merrill. “Ideas of what constitutes a beautiful girl change just as do standards in clothing,” he explained. “Apparently what the vast bulk of people want those who are interested in a girl’s looks, that is a taller type. Maybe it’s because the race is getting bigger. “From a technical standpoint, at any rate, it is rare that we find real beauty without stature. A girl who stands around five feet or five-two may be pretty, but it’s physically impossible for her to have much dignity or queenliness. “

Here is another article about our busy bee Martha:

Martha Merrill is a young ingenue. Her name may ‘ mean nothing to you, although she has screen credit I mention her because of all the youngsters I have met, she seems more ambitious and willing to work than most. Recently a young man fell in love with her. He dogged her steps, pleading for social dates, but her nights were so filled with studies that she refused. His persistence in the end paid off, but after such a long time…

I have no idea who that young man could be, but as far as her love life was concerned, Martha was married briefly to a Los Angeles physician, a Dr. Parrish. However,I could not find any marriage certificate, I just know that they were divorced prior to 1940.

In 1936, Martha was serious for a time with Ross Alexander, a fellow Warner Bros contractee. As Ross was a highly unhappy individual, it was actually a blessing in disguise when they broke up later that year (Ross killed himself in 1937). Around that time Martha was also seen with Lyle Talbott.

Unfortunately, Martha suffered from an unknown physical malady, and by the late 1930s had to put short her acting career. Trying to find another occupation for herself, producer Edgar Selwyn persuade her to try short story writing and submitted her first effort to a national magazine,which led to a five-year contract at Paramount-studio’s as a scenarist. Unfortunately, I could not find under which name she wrote as she has no writing credits under her acting name.

After this switch of careers, Martha lived part of the year in New York, and there met and fell in love with noted theater critic George Jean Nathan. They dated for a time, and she spent even more time in New York so their relationship could blossom, but they broke up int he early 1940s.

On June 9, 1944, Martha married her second husband, Emanuel Manheim. Manheim was born on November 13, 1897, in New York, to Levi and Rachael Manheim. He was quite a bit older than Martha, but was never wed before.

Funny, but Mannie’s obituary has the best biography written about him i could find:

 Emanuel (Mannic) Manheim, a New York-born humorist who wrote three decades of radio and TV comedy for the likes of Groucho Marx, Frank Sinatra and Art Link-letter, and once presided as the “mayor” of Schwab’s during the drugstore’s Hollywood heyday, has died. Manheim was 90 when he died at Santa Monica Hospital on June 26, according to family and friends. In the mid-1930s, Manheim came to Hollywood from Syracuse, N.Y., for a brief vacation, but at the behest of a friend, composer Harold Arlen, he stayed and stayed, for more than 50 years, writing first for the most popular radio shows of the time and then for television as recently as the 1970s. “A very clever, very witty, very nice man,” recalled writer and playwright Arthur Marx, Grouch-o’s son and a fledgling writer when Manheim got him his first writing job, on Milton Berle’s radio show. In Hollywood, Arlen introduced him to Marx, who gave him his first assignment: writing a Groucho -Chico sequence for radio, according to Manheim’s wife, Martha. Man-heim’s most memorable one, an absent-minded bit known variously as “Hello Olive” and “The Thorndykes,” is a skit Groucho used repeatedly for years. Groucho was performing with Bob Hope and ad-libbing his way through a Manheim script when he was spotted by a TV producer who cleared the way for “You Bet Your Life,” and Groucho wryly credited Manheim with helping to launch his TV career, said Arthur Marx. Among his other radio credits were shows for Edgar Bergen, Frank Sinatra, Rudy Vallee, Jackie Gleason and, for several years, Al Jolson. He also wrote material for Bob Hope and Bing Crosby, and served as head writer for Milton Berle’s radio program. Manheim’s daily calendar was consulted by everyone on that show, his wife said, and one day Berle caught sight of the notation “Book Mencken,” Manheim’s reminder to himself to pick up the latest copy of pundit H.L. Mencken’s work. “What the hell right have you got,” Berle supposedly snarled, “to book Mencken without my consent?” Manheim wrote for television from its infancy. He wrote and produced “The George Jessel Show,” and wrote for “People Are Funny” as well as occasional scripts for “The Real McCoys,” “The Donna Reed Show” and, at the end of his career, for such shows as “My Three Sons.” But “he was at his best,” said his wife, “in those big musical comedy shows you don’t see any more.” At Manheim’s request, there were no services. He is survived by his wife and his brother, Het.

Martha and Mannie lived in California and enjoyed a very happy union. They did not have any children, but it seems that this did not put a strain on the marriage. In 1958, Martha started studying philosophy at Santa Monica College, and was a straight A student each semester.

Manheim died on June 28, 1988 in Los Angeles. Martha lived a quiet life in their home and didn’t remarry.

Martha Baum Manheim died on April 2, 1991, in Los Angeles, California.

Mary Casiday

Mary Casiday came to Hollywood as a pretty model, managed to nab a studio contract and stayed. She never did any serious dramatic work, but like most girls who had such careers, her whole life was shaped by Los Angeles, a town she would have probably never visited if not for Hollywood. Let’s hear more about her!

EARLY LIFE

Mary Alice Irene Casiday was born in 1917 to Samuel Carlyle Casiday and Daisy Elizabeth Harrower in Des Moines, Iowa. Her father was a plumber. Her older brother was Carlyle Leure, born in 1916, and her younger sister was Daisy Elizabeth, born in 1919. The family moved to Omaha, Nebraska at some point and Mary grew up there. After she graduated from high school (St. Mary’s Convent), she found work as a model in Omaha.

Mary was a model for a short time when she decided to try the movies. Her story is actually a very inspiring one – in a town where many girls pine for months (and sometimes for years) for their chance to appear in movies , May had it very easy – she applied for a job on a Friday and got her first call the following Monday. As a complete newcomer, she knew so little about Hollywood that she went to the wrong studio on the first day of work. Luckily, she managed to find the correct studio and her career was of!

CAREER

This is pretty slim, as Mary appeared in only two movies – Dames and Westward the Women

What to say about Dames? A typical Busby Berkeley musical, that is the same as most of his other work – no plot, lots of dancing, singing and scantly clothed chorus girls. And guess who Mary was? A chorus girl, of course! While I myself am not a fan of such movie,s it’s still very, very impressive to see the perfectly choreographed scenes and one can’t help but admire Busby’s impeccable sense for elegant but abundant (is there a word that can truly nail it down?) motion. While not his best, this one stand the test of time and it’s more than watchable today.

Westward the Women is a different story. While this is no work of art comparable to the bets movie ever made, it’s still a great movie from William Wellman, one of the undisputed masters of the 20th century. The movie is about a trail guide escorts a group of women from Chicago to California to marry men that have recently began settling there. And boy, is it one of the very few movies realistically depicting pioneer life! Like it usually does Hollywood glamorized the hard knock, very difficult pioneer life, but not so much here, as she movie tackled it head on and hides nothing. As a result, it’s not easy to watch it, but it’s incredibly interesting and even inspiring to see people who beat terrible odds to keep living on a normal life in such surroundings. The cast is also pretty good – from Robert Taylor, already past his pretty boy stage, to a whole arena of female actresses (Denise Darcel, Julie Bishop, Marilyn Erskine, Hope Emerson and so on), Wellman makes it work as smoothly as clockwork, and it’s a testament to his prowess as a director.

Unfortunately, that was it from Mary as far as IMDB claims. Her obituary tells a different story – allegedly she worked for Warner Bros and later William Randolph Hearst Production Co.  all the way until the mid 1950s. That means she could have been in other movies or TV shows under different names, or IMDB just doesn’t have all the information, but now I guess we’ll never know unless somebody goes some through information digging. The obituary also states that she appeared in several Busby Berkeley movies with their lavish production numbers, and was selected Miss Golden Girl in the Berkeley troupe. But let’s leave it at that!

PRIVATE LIFE

In 1939, Mary started dating Clifford Welch (whoever he was!). In typical Hollywood style, whenever Welch was not in town, she had other swains. Once they were Anthony Averill and Dick Purcell who were her “gay caballeros” (as the columnists called them) while Cliff was back in the East. They squirmed her at Grace Hayes’ Lodge.

However, Cliff was Mary’s one true hearty toddy. That same year, Clifford Welch flew in from New York just to help Mary celebrate her birthday. It seemed that they were a serious couple for a time, but it seems they broke up the next year.

Mary made a personal appearance at the San Francisco Fair last week-end for Princess Do Ling, former lady in waiting to the late Empress Dowager of China. A barbecued chicken dinner following a long horseback trek was enjoyed by the clever hostess (Mary).

In 1940, after she and Cliff called it quits, she nabbed Dick Purcell, her old swain, from her love rival Vicki Lester. Hollywood sure was a small place back then, and people dated extensively.

Here is a short, fun story about Mary’s chorus days in Hollywood:

Chorines just now are rehearsing from noon until 6 p. m.. and performing; from 8:30 until 1 or 2 o’clock in the morning. Yesterday evening, about 8 o’clock, Carroll’s chief aide-de-camp, Herman Hover was descending a flight of backstage stairs. Suddenly a bell began to jangle under his feet and with a horror-stricken shout of “TIME BOMB LOOK OUT:” Mr. Hover took the rest of the steps at a single bound. And from under the stairs where they had made a bed of blankets and pillows emerged Mary Casiday and Patti Sacks. Too tired to go home, they had set an alarm to insure waking up in time for the show

In 1940, there were news that Mary would undergo an appendectomy as soon as her strength is built sufficiently for the ordeal. It seems Mary was generally a fragile little thing and was not in the best of health for periods of time. The operation didn’t go as planned and Mary was allegedly hovering between life and death for some time afterwards. Time went by and she was no better and her friends were greatly worried. Luckily, after a dark time, she recuperated and resumes her Hollywood career.

It seems Mary was involved with handsome actor Lyle Talbot for a time – she gave him a big farewell party when he was scheduled to leave for Philadelphia to play in “Thanks for My Wife”. Unfortunately, the relationship ended soon afterwards. However, Mar’y love life continued unhindered. In 1941, she was getting a terrific rush from Edmund McDonald, in the construction business in San Francisco. Soon, there were stories all around how Edmund asked her to marry him and wedding bells would sound soon for the duo. And then nothing happened. I mean literary, no information about why they broke up or anything.

In May 1942, Mary was back in the hospital for another operation, but this time it all went well, and she got ready for the big event of the year – her wedding. In December 1942, Mary married Cecil Joseph Bye. Here is a newspaper clip about the marriage:

BYE-CASIDAY The wedding date of Dec. 30 for Miss Mary Casiday and Cecil Joseph Bye was announced at the surprise bridal shower given for the bride-elect by Mrs. Frederick Maxwell Karger in her Hollywood home. The marriage will be solemnized at the Sacred Heart of Mary. Miss Casiday is a graduate of St. Mary’s Convent, Omaha, and vice-president of the Army Camps Kmergency Service. Mr. Bye Is attending officers’ candidate school, Camp Davis, North Carolina, and is a graduate of the University of Cincinnati.

Cecil Joseph Bye was born on December 10, 1907, the son of William Harry Bye and Adiliade Peiling. He was a successful Los Angeles businessman when he married Mary. Little is known about the Bye’s married life, except that they were California-based and Mary retired after the marriage.
Bye died on May 3, 1986 in Los Angeles. Mary never remarried and continued living in the city.

Mary Casiday Bye died on November 3, 1998 in Los Angeles.

Betty McIvor

Betty McIvor was a beautiful debutante who wanted to act and was given the chance to do so – but unfortunately she left no impression on the world of films. As most of her peers, she retired after a few roles, got married and slipped into the upper class lifestyle.

EARLY LIFE

Betty Jane McIvor was born on June 8, 1919, in Sweet Grass, Montana to Allan Vivian McIvor and Mabel Pudget. Her father was a vice president of a local bank. Both of her parents were members of the upper class, and Betty grew up in a wealthy household that had several servants.

In 1930, they family moved to  Cheyenne, Laramie, Wyoming for Allan’s work, and Betty spent most of her teen years in Wyoming, adapting to the local Midwestern lifestyle. After graduating from high school (a private one, no doubt), she left to study at Stanford University.

Yet, her ties with Wyoming remained. In 1940, she was selected as Miss Cheyenne Frontier Days to rule over the famous outdoor rodeo at Cheyenne. She was described as “a typical girl of the west, 21, a daughter of a prominent western family and a student at Stanford university”. On Stanford university, she was noticed by a scout and given a chance to join the movie world.

CAREER

Betty made her debut in Dames, a typical Busby Berkeley musical with a very, very thin plot but plenty of music, dancing and pretty girls. As per usual, we have Joan Blondell, Dick Powell and Ruby Keeler in various capacities. She continued in the same vein with Gold Diggers of 1935, perhaps the best Berkeley musical made in the 1930s. Much as Dames, it has no plot but it well stuffed in other areas – namely, as we mentioned, dance music and girls, girls girls! Even the cast is half the same, but just everything is better (it’s hard to explain what exactly makes this the best Berkeley movie, but it is one of the best, hands down! Just watch it and enjoy).

We get more of the same in In Caliente, another Berkeley musical. This time, we have a slightly different cast – instead of old stalwarts like Powell and Keeler, we have Pat O’Brien and Dolores del Rio. Without any doubt, del Rio was one of the most stunning women that ever came to Hollywood, and O’Brien was a character actor that could carry leading roles with ease, so a plus to the casting department IMHO! As always, the story makes little sense, but you ain’t watching it for this, right?

Betty changed tracks with The Case of the Lucky Legs, not a Berkeley musical but a Perry Mason mystery – and boy, was Warren William a different Mason that Raymond Burr, whom we all know as the idealistic attorney. William is a more human and less “perfect” Perry – he is more than a bit cheeky and unusually flippant, but I have to say I like this incarnation a great deal. The story is vintage Mason, and Della Street is played by the highly fashionable Genevive Tobin. What can we say, it’s a solid movie, too bad the popular 1960s series overshadows all the previous versions.

Betty was again a gold digger in Gold Diggers of 1937, a pale semi remake of the 1935 movie. What can I say, like most remakes it simply fails. Hollywood, stop making remakes – obviously this doesn’t work. Interestingly, the formula is the same (no plot, plenty of fun), but the movies vary in quality and it’s hard to exactly pinpoint what is the edge that makes a movie great or mediocre.

Betty finished her career with Thin Ice, a Sonja Henie movie. What can I say, I don’t like Henie and never rated her movies highly. She knew how to skate for sure, but was neither a warm, endearing star (more important for musicals than the ability to do Shakespeare) nor was she a good thespian (in fact, . And her movies are dismal in terms of plot and character development (huh, what did I expect from a glorified skating musical after all?).

This was it from Betty!

PRIVATE LIFE

In 1940, when Betty was already 20 years old and getting ready to get married, her parents, already about 50 years old each, adopted a baby girl, Patricia Lou Brown.

Betty married her first husband, Franklin Judd Downing on December 27, 1940. Here is a short article about the marriage:

BETTY McIVOR TO BE BRIDE Miss Betty Mclvor, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Allan V. Mclvor of Hollywood, and Judd Downing, son of Mrs. Maude Downing, arc to be married tomorrow in the Chapman Park Pueblo Oratorio. A reception will be held in the Green Room of the Chapman Park. The couple plan to spend their honeymoon in Arizona. The bride-elect attended the University of Colorado and Stanford and is a member of Kappa Kappa Gamma. Mr. Downing is a graduate of the University of Miami

Judd was born on August 1, 1912 in Lima, Ohio, to Frank and Maud Dowling. After studying in Dade, Florida (where he lived with his mother) he became a successful practicing attorney in California and was featured in the social columns in the papers from time to time. He was married and divorced prior to 1935, but I could not find a name of his spouse.

Their daughter Judith Allan was born on January 26, 1945. Unfortunately, by this time the Dowling’s marriage was disintegrating and they divorced in 1946.

Betty married for the second time, to Lorrin Tarlton, on December 6, 1947. Lorrin Cooke Tarlton was born on July 10, 1911, in Watertown, Massachusetts, to Edna Stone Cooke and Frank Dale Calrton both members of prominent families. His mother was the daughter of formerConnecticut governor, Lorrin Cooke. Tarlton was married once before, on July 7, 1934, to Olive Wheelock. They had a son together, Lorrin Cooke Tarlton, born on February 16, 1936. Lorrin and Olive divorced in the early 1940s (I can assume).

Lorrin and Betty lived an active life in California, and were regulars at the social columns in the area. Lorrin adopted Betty’s daughter Judith but it seems they did not have any more children. Like her mother, Judith attended Stanford University.

Lorrin’s son Lorrin Jr. became a successful businessman and in
the 1980s developed Menlo Business Park, taking advantage of the then novel Dumbarton Bridge.

Betty’s former husband Judd Dowling died in January 1973.

Betty’s husband, Lorrin Cooke Tarlton, died on March 18, 1981, in Los Angeles.

Betty McIvor Tarlton died at the ripe of age of 95 in 2014 in California.

Charlene Hardey

Charlene was a stunningly beautiful Home coming queen who wanted to crash Hollywood, and she did crash it. For a few days during her glorious year. And that was that. She was soon burned out and left acting for other ventures, getting married in the end and raising a family. Let’s hear her story…

EARLY LIFE

Charlene Mae Hardey was born on May 29, 1927, in Imperial, California, to Gordon S. Hardey and Mae Williams. Her father, a native of Oklahoma, was a owned and operated a car repair station in Imperial, her Texas-born mother was a housewife. Her younger brother Gordon Williams was born on November 14, 1930. The family lived with Gordon’s dad, Henry Hardey (have no idea where grandma was, as Henry isn’t listed as a widow, but married).

By all accounts, Charlene had a normal middle class upbringing, and was a movie fan who wanted to become an actress. After high school enrolled into the University of Southern California, majoring in drama. And then, her time of fame came… Here is a short article about it:

Queen to Reign in Home-coming Selected at SC Helen of Troy . . . She was selected at the University of Southern California yesterday and she launched a thousand sighs. As the prettiest Trojane of them all, she will reisn over the many events’ in the current Home’ coming Week on the Trojan cam pus. She Is Charlene Hardey. Dark-haired and petite 5 feet, 2 inches, 110 pounds Charlene is a senior majoring in drama. She belongs to Pi Phi Sorority. Her home is in Brawley. Charlene was chosen from among 21 finalists in the annual Helen of Troy contest before a full and appreciative audience in Bovard Auditorium on the SC campus. Picked to reign with her over home-coming week activities were four attendants: Harriet Steele, 20, a junior, of 368 Gladys St., Long Beach; Nevin Haugh, 21, a senior, of 135 S Van Ness Ave.: Patricia Judson, 20, a junior, of 9002 Norma Place, Beverly Hills, and Sally Harris, 21, a senior, of . 3378 -Huntington Drive, San Marino. All of the attendants belong to Delta Delta Delta except Miss Haugh who is a Delta Gamma. Judges who selected Helen of Troy and her four attendants were Film Actors Donald O’Connor and Lee Bowman and Band leader Les Brown, whose orchestra played before the final selection.

The papers listed all the actives she was to undertake as a homecoming queen, and there were quite a lot, actually. They were:
… As queen of the campus, Miss Hardey will be feted at a sorority reception today
. . . preside over the freshman-sophomore -push ball, sack race and tug-of-war and women’s contests on Bovard Field that afternoon
. . . ride in the Hollywood Blvd. Christmas parade tonight
. . . participate in the’ traditional Taxi Day parade that Friday when some 20 vehicles of all descriptions will proceed from the SC campus to the City Man where Mayor Bowron is scheduled to present the keys to the city to Helen of Troy
… be honored at a pre-football luncheon which will be given by President Fred Dl Fagg Jr. of SC before the SC-Notre Dame football game Saturday
. . . ride on a special float In the home-coming parade in the Coliseum before the game and reign over the home-coming dance Saturday night at Casino Gardens.

Phew, I hope it was worth it. Anyway, all eyes were on Charlene those few days, including the eyes of Hollywood. A talent scout, always hungry for pretty young ladies, saw her and she was signed to a contract.

CAREER

Charlene appeared in only two movies. The first is A Life of Her Own. The plot is as follows: an aspiring, played by Lana Turner, model who leaves her small town in the Midwest to seek fame and fortune in New York City and gets mixed up with a married man (played by Ray Milland) and has to survive in the ruthless world of modeling. It’s a typical 1940s weepie, a overtly dramatic romance movie, not much more, but made well enough not to be a waste of time. But, I still think it’s worth watching. Plenty of well acted (and less well acted) angst works both for and against the movie. The ending surprised me nicely and Ann Dvorak role’s a plus. The original script was much more morally ambiguous, but sadly the censors cut it down into (same story of old Hollywood, it seems). Charlene played one of the models.

Charlene than appeared in another woman’s movie – Take Care of My Little Girl, a subject close to her very own heart – university life. The plot: A young woman enters college and learns some hard truths about sorority lifethe negative things.The movie looks like a fluffy piece of sugar, but it actually packs a punch if one watches it more closely. The movie carries a strong message about snobbery, shallowness, and hazing, something that is more relevant today than ever before. None of the thespians was first class – Jeanne Crain, while beautiful, was never a particularly talented actress, and Jean Peters, while always adequate, was no Bette Davis – same goes for Dale Robertson – but they are perfect for a movie of this kind, and hit the right notes. Definitely recommended!

After her movie career was over, Charlene did some TV work, a modus operandi for many actor and actresses of her generation.

PRIVATE LIFE

After her acting career watered down to nil, Charlene for a time did TV films for Bing Crosby Enterprises, and then served as Red Sanders‘ secretary for seven years. Well, how did she become a secretary all of a sudden? Namely, Red lured away from the cameras to become his real-life secretary after she had played that role on his weekly TV show, “Pigskin Clinic.” After she left Red’s employ, she spend some time serving in the same capacity for Billy Barnes.

In his private life, Charlene was cool, calm and collected and never made any newspaper headlines. She met her future husband, handsome Stephen Steere, during the 1948 USC vs. Notre Dame football game, where he first saw her – she was on the field and he was in the audience, so perhaps the didn’t meet “for real”, as she didn’t even notice him. However, in a strange twist of fate, they “met” for real on a a blind date a year later and dated for six more years. They were married on December 14, 1956, in Los Angeles. Charlene retired after her marriage. Now, something about Steere.

Stephen Douglas Steere was a Southern California native, born in Santa Monica on June 20, 1925 to Fred and Gertrude (Gigi) Steere. He was the third of five children – his older sisters were Jeanne and Barbara (who were born in Canada, as the family was originally Canadian), and his younger siblings were Neila Margaret, born on January 7, 1928, and Donald Mack, born on June 22, 1929His father managed Wilson’s Sporting Goods on 3rd Street and Wilshire in Santa Monica. His education was delayed by the War – he was drafted and returned to civilian life in 1945. After taking art classes at SMC, he rekindled his natural artistic talents and went on to attend Art Center College of Design, with a degree in illustration.

As his obituary (read it here, much information about the couple was taken from it) notes:

Following his focus on fine art, he went on to explore more commercial art avenues, working at Western Publishing in Beverly Hills, alongside artist Ellis ‘Papa Duke’ Eringer. This led to establishing himself as a successful free-lance artist, working primarily for Walt Disney Studios, as well as Warner Bros., 20th Century Fox, Universal, MGM, Hanna Barbera, Dell Comics, Mattel, and Hallmark among others. His talents evolved into a 50-year career drawing every popular character created by these houses of tangible imagination. Steve’s work appeared in books, comic books, coloring books, comic strips, and on clothing, videos, posters, etc. — hundreds of products enjoyed by children and adults around the world for decades. He also did early developmental work for Disneyland in advertising and merchandising. In later years, he returned to his fine-art roots, painting impressionistic and three-dimensional land and seascapes.

Charlene and Stephen had two children, a daughter, Shannon, born on February 18, 1960, in Los Angeles, and a son, Stephen, born on August 4, 1961, in Los Angeles.

When they first married, Charlene and Steve lived in Santa Monica, then Pacific Palisades, then moved to Malibu in 1960, first in La Costa Beach, then in Malibu West, becoming one of the original owners in the new neighborhood. When their house was destroyed by a fire, they rebuilt the home. They enjoyed a happy and harmonious marriage for more than 50 years.

Charlene Steere died on October 23, 2008, in Malibu, California. Her widower Stephen Steere died on October 20, 2014.

Ariel Heath

 

 

Ariel Heath was another debutante who wanted to make it big in movies and failed. However, her life story is less orthodox than most, and she definitely did do better than most of her fellow socialites, having credited roles and actually staying in Hollywood for three years. Unfortunately, stupid publicity fastened her demise. Let’s hear it!

EARLY LIFE

Anne Harrison was born in Cinncinatti, Ohio, on January 2, 1917, to socialites Learner Blackman Harrison and Frances Kohlsaat, their first child. Her father was the great local banker who came from a prominent family. Her mother was also a debutante, niece of Herman H. Kohlsaat, an eminent Chicago editor and author. Anne had a younger sister, Frances, born in 1922, and a brother.

The Harrisons employed two servants, Margaret Dechant and Lester Wright, and lived the lavish life. Unfortunately, her parents divorced in 1924, her mother remarried as soon as the ink on the divorce papers was dry (to a younger Montecito guy, Samuel Russel Dabney) and her father remarried to Hilda Jones in 1926 (coincidentally, Hilda was born on the same day as Anne, January 2). Anne stayed with her father while her younger siblings went to live with their mother (a bit weird but okay, whatever works).

Ariel thus lived with her dad,  hard and proud Cincinnati businessman who commuted between that city and Lexington, where his mother lived, with Ariel tagging along.

In time Ariel caught the acting bug and starting from the age of eleven, she played child parts in Stuart Walker‘s repertory company while visiting her grandmother one summer. This became came a regular summer-stock routine until Mr Walker was called to Hollywood to direct pictures for Paramount studios. Then things began happening. Stuart Walker wired Ariel and her grandmother an invitation to come to Hollywood. Ariel’s father immediately put his foot down and Ariel was whisked off to Meath County, Ireland for further schooling, then to Switzerland and Paris, where she attended finishing schools. Naturally, Ariel ended up majoring in dramatics, sculpting and painting. The rumblings of war brought her back to Kentucky, her horses and her American Kennel champion dogs. She wanted to be a veterinarian but lacked the proper credits to enter a veterinary school (I guess she was too lazy to seriously study).

Then, in the early 1930s, Ariel’s grandmother moved to Hollywood, and this served as a catalyst for the young girl to make her plans. Her friend and former coach, Stuart Walker, was now firmly established as a motion picture director. She wired him, he wired back, and Ariel was in Los Angeles in a flash.

However, the day Ariel arrived in Hollywood, tragedy struck. Stuart Walker was suddenly stricken and died a week later. His death was a great shock to her, but she decided to stay and enjoy her newfound freedom. Since money was no problem, she didn’t even look for a job right away – she just idled at the sunny shores of California.

However, as stories sometimes go, when a you won’t come to the mountain the mountain will come to you, and movies found another way to claim Ariel. Ariel had a Shepherd dog, Michael. Ariel entered her prize dog in a Kennel Club Show in Beverly Hills. At the same show was Elizabeth Risdon, RKO actress, who was also showing her dog. Miss Risdon became interested in Ariel’s Shepherd then she took a second look at Ariel. The next day, Miss Risdon mentioned her discovery to one of her bosses at RKO. Ariel was called to the studio, given screen test and signed to a contract. From then on, she became best friend with Miss Risdon,  who also sent her to Helena Sorell, head of the RKO Radio Drama School troupe. And then she was pushed into movies!

CAREER

Ariel started her career in Here We Go Again, a Molly and Fiber Mcgee comedy. It’s one of those “if you like them, watch it, if you don’t, don’t” comedic series – not for everybody, but some people enjoy it. Next came the very unrealistic, strangely cast musical Seven Days’ Leave. oh yes, if you want to see Victor Mature as a soldier-crooner, do watch this! Weird. On the plus side, it’s not a bad effort and is definitely a feel-happy movie (and it’s got Lucille Ball in it!). Then came the grim and serious Hitler’s Children, a very direct criticism at Hitler Youth movement. It’s one of those movies you see but don’t enjoy, due to its brutal and nightmarish theme, but still, it packs a pretty strong punch, as it was intended. Another anti-Nazi movie, in a slightly different coating, was Flight for Freedom, hailed as the life story of Amelia Earhart – but actually a war propaganda movie. Thus, it’s not a good movie at any rate, although Rosalind Russell and Fred MacMurray give their best shots. Ladies’ Day was finally an easier fare – a baseball comedy with little game and plenty of zany comediennes (Patsy Kelly, Iris Adrian and Lupe Velez). It’s a B movie and it shows, but it’s got a peculiar charm of its own.

Ariel than appeared in a Falcon movie, The Falcon Strikes Back. What to say, more of the same. And then, Ariel appeared in a string of prestigious, very good movies. The first was This Land Is Mine, one of the best movie about ordinary people in war ever made. Charles Laughton shines as a mild mannered teacher turned resistance fighter, and Maureen O’Hara gives a passionate performance too. The Leopard Man is a stunning horror movie by the master of the genre, Jacques Tourneur. Sadly not as famous as the director’s other work, it’s a compelling, tightly plotted and superbly made movie. Ariel finished her golden string with Mr. Lucky, an interesting Cary Grant film where he plays a gambler turned charity donor (after he falls in love with a girl, of course). Since I like Laraine Day, it’s a definite plus that she’s in the movie, IMHO.

And then Airel got her five minutes of fame, and a credited role in a low-budget western. Yipee!! Or maybe not. The movie in question was Black Hills Express and it’s completely forgotten today. Zzzz, let’s not waste any more time on it. Ariel continued with her credited career in A Lady Takes a Chance, a fluffy Jean Arthur/John Wayne comedy. She was also prominently featured in Career Girl, a pale remake of Stage Door. Here, we have no Ginger Rogers or Katherine Hepburn – we just have Frances Langford and Lorraine Miller. While they were to some degree talented ladies, they can’t save a movie nor make it a true classic. She had another not-invisible role in Machine Gun Mama, a simple, low-key Z class comedy. Her last movie, The Big Show-Off, was of a similar vein, a little known low-budget comedy with Arthur Lake and Dale Evans (sans hubby Roy Rogers). That was it from Ariel!                

PRIVATE LIFE

Ariel was import to Hollywood as a Jean Harlow wannabe. And while she was being groomed for stardom (and many starlets don’t have this luxury), of course it didn’t work. Like many other “copies”, she crashed and burned. her studio tried to downplay on their plan, even claiming that it was NO HINDRANCE to her career that she closely resembled Jean Harlow, but this proved to be a futile attempt. This is a typical article illustrating this:

Ariel Heath — the name has the airy, ethereal fluff of a Summer cloud. But it’s a Lexington, Kentucky, girl who resembles Jean Harlow, and who was being built up by RKO on that
basis. Blessed with an Irish wit and humor, she laughs when she tells you she stopped kidding herself about becoming famous that way.
She feels she is an actress, has experience and training to back that feeling, and so, she took the part of a meanie in PRC’s present production, “Manhattan Rhythm.” At least she will get a chance to show that she can act.

They tried to sell Ariel as a Jean Harlow look-alike who cared nothing about it and wanted to be a serious actress. If only! If they really wanted to make her a serious actress, they would neither have bleached her hair nor even mentioned Jean’s name in the same sentence as Ariel’s. All in all, a general fiasco.

Ariel seemed to be a very well-bred, nice and enthusiastic young lady. When she was interviewed for the first time, the writer wrote this about her:

When I was asked to Interview Ariel Heath, whose option was recently picked Up by R.K.O. Radio Pictures, I expected to meet a very complex young lady — and I did. The lovely twenty-one-year-old blonde beauty from the blue-grass state of Kentucky was quite reticent about her own past and preferred heaping her praises upon her fellow contract players, climaxing her “press – agent- ing” with, “We all owe our good fortune, directly or indirectly, to the coaching and understanding of Miss Helena Sorrel, our dialogue director.” “That’s great! Now what about you?” I said sternly. “You’re the one I’m supposed to be interviewing.” My last words died away into a whisper. You see, I had caught her eyes. They’re a fathomless grey and when this curvaceous creature smiles, well, shades of the late Jean Harlow appear before your eyes . . and you do naught but stare. Fortunately, her grandmother, with whom Ariel shares an apartment in Hollywood, appeared on the scene and upon her insistence Ariel talked.

Another interesting tidbit: Ariel’s father and family were not aware that she was in pictures, only her grandmother knew the secret. Ariel commented on this: “You see Father is not a movie fan and would hit the ceiling if he knew. We want to break it to him gently, at the proper time.” Since her career was over soon enough, one wonders did she even mention this West Coast sojourn to her dad.

As for romance, we are a bit thin here. Lee Bowman, a noted actor, introduced Ariel Heath to his brother, Hunter Bowman, American Airlines official visiting in Hollywood from Washington, D. C., and they dated for sometime after.

Ariel was allegedly quite intelligent. When she was painted by noted artist Peter Fairchild, he called her “Hollywood’s intelligent blonde with classic features. Then they all aren’t beautiful and dumb, you see.”

Her hair color during her stay in Hollywood was known as a “whistle-blonde” shade (not platinum blonde, mind you!). Unfortunately, it was hard to upkeep it so she gave up halfway and darkened it. Also, Ariel missed Lexington quite a bit during her stay in Tinsel town. Her closest friends in Lexington were the Ed Maddens – Mr. Madden sent her a valuable thoroughbred mare shipped to Hollywood in a box stall but Ariel had to give her up since she couldn’t afford to feed it!

Ariel left Hollywood after a few roles, and was rarely featured in the papers. However, the next thing we know, she was to get married, to another socialite, Shipley Bayless.

Here is a newspaper announcement on their wedding:

THE MARRIAGE OF Mrs. Anne Harrison and Mr. Shipley Armstrong Bayless will be solemnized at 6:30 o’clock this afternoon at the residence of the late Mr. and Mm. John E. C. Kohlsaat at Santa Barbara, Calif. Only the immediate family will be present at the ceremony. Mrs. Harrison is the daughter of Mrs. Samuel R. Dabney (Frances Kohlsaat) of White Gate Ranch, Los Olivos, Calif., and Mr. Learner B. Harrison of Cincinnati. Mr. Bay-less is the son of Mr. Herman A. Bayless and the late Mrs. Alfreda Shipley Bayless. After their wedding journey Mr. Bayless and his bride will return to Cincinnati where they will be established in Mr. Bayless’s residence on Vista Avenue.

Anne and her husband were very active socially and strong members of the horse-breeding set – they owned several farms and prize-winning horses. Unfortunately, as I know next to nothing about that culture, I can’t write about it in any detail.

Bayless and Anne divorced in the 1960s, and he remarried in 1964 to Mary O’Connell. He died in 2005.

Anne Bayless died on July 21, 1973 in Santa Barbara, California.

Florine Dickson

Another debutante who decided to become a serious actress, Florine Dickson fared as most of her peers did – she tried, didn’t achieve any tangible success and gave up. But still, each story is unique in their own way, to let’s hear it!

EARLY LIFE

Florine L. Dickson was born in February 1, 1914 in San Bernardino, California, to Hugh I. Dickson and Ola McConnic. Her father was an eminent attorney. Her mother was married once before and had a son, Sam Matthews (born in 1894), from that marriage. Both of her parents were Mississippi natives. Her older sisters were Margaret, born on January 4, 1906, and Dorothy, born on February 7, 1908 (both of them were born in San Bernardino). Florine was the baby of the family, much-loved and cuddled.

Florine grew up as most debutantes did back in the 1910s and 1920s – attended private school and being socially very active. Since her older sister Margaret (who was a one time teacher after graduating from college) was married in Hawaii, she often went there and was very active in the Hawaiian social scene. During the months spent in Honolulu with Margaret (then Mrs. Irving Blum) Florine made a study of the dance of the natives and Oriental dances, which would help her in her future career.

Florine’s mom had some familial connection in Colorado, and in part because of this, Florine went on to study at the University of Colorado in Denver. She later switched to University of Southern California, where she graduated (and much more, later about this).

My guess is that she broke into movies thanks to her socialite status and dancing background.

CAREER

Florine appeared in only three movies during her all too brief career. The first one was George White’s 1935 Scandals, and whoa, what can I say about this movie? It has a paper-thin plot – small town stars going to Broadway – but viewer back then, as now, didn’t watch it for the deep story and complex characterizations – they watched it for the music, for the glamour and for the dancing. And this one, while not an ever lasting classic, doesn’t disappoint. We have Alice Faye and her wonderful singing, Eleanor Powell doing great tap dancing, and decent comic relief provided by Ned Sparks – this is more than enough for a decent movie, don’t you think?

Florine’s next movie was Redheads on Parade, another musical with an idiotic story, but with loads of pretty redheads in a chorus line. Of course, Florine was one of the redheads. Needless to say, the movie is completely forgotten today and obviously for good reason.

Florine made her last movie full five years later, in 1940. She appeared in You Nazty Spy!, a very good Three Stooges comic short. And guess what it’s about? Fighting Nazis, of course, with our three favorite comedians as protagonists. Unfortunately, this did not lead to a career revival for Florine.

That was all from Florine!    

PRIVATE LIFE

In 1935, the papers warned the readers not to be surprised if they read shortly the formal notice of an engagement between her and Homer Griffith, Chicago Cardinals football half back. How did they meet? Well, this is one sweet story!

The two met on the S. C campus when both were students and lived next door to each other on “Greek Row.” He, Homer Griffith, was a star back of University of Southern California college team (future Chicago Cardinal pro). Florine, the beauty that she was, was an Alpha Chi Omega sorority girl at IT. S. Griffith’s fraternity house, the Phi Kappa Psi, was standing next door to the Alpha Chi Omega’s. In other words, Florine was at the Alpha Chi house while Homer was at the Phi Psi Tong temple, and it was inevitable that they meet.

This was all fine and dandy, but these sentences put he on guard mode:

“We have no plans for an immediate marriage,” Griffith said. “In fact, I wouldn’t say we arc formally engaged. But when the time comes I hope to marry Miss Dickson,” he added

Then why the heck marry? Guess those were different times than today. Since Florine was mighty popular with the boys, many of them were saddened with the news that she was getting married to Homer. However, they needn’t not worries. Despite all the hullabaloo and big words in the papers, Florine ditched her student fiancée and within the year, had a new . Now, how did this happen? I have no idea, but my own wild guess is that Florine dated Homer for ages and it was taken for granted that they would wed. However, enter Hollywood and handsome actors. Florine fell in love with another man – and broke of her engagement. Here is a short article about her marriage:

Forsaking a career in motion pictures, Florine Dickson left tonight for New York to marry John McGuire next Monday and go on a honeymoon trip. They met on a film stage here. She was regarded here as a coming star, having been selected as one of the “baby” stars for two consecutive years. McGuire, who also has won a place in pictures, is now playing in a Broadway production. Miss Dickson is the daughter of Hugh I. Dickson, federal referee i n bankruptcy here. She is a . McGuire was graduated from the University of Santa Clara in 1933.

The couple went to honeymoon in. Later, John would rave about his wife’s perfume, Evening in Paris, and just how important a part it played in their courtship.

“The scent of Evening in Paris Perfume is one of my earliest memories of the girl I fell in love with and married. Perhaps it’s understandable that one of the things I like best to give Florine
is Evening in Paris Perfume. I hope she wears it always.”

Now, something about John. He was born on October 22, 1910, making him 7 years older than Florine. He graduated from University of Santa Clara and entered movies in 1932. Following the marriage they settled in New York, where Florine and John were both engaged as artists’ models, filling important engagements continuously. Florine was very successful and had been recognized as the model for numerous magazine covers and extensive advertising and other publicity.

In 1940 Florine and Jack were living in Hollywood where Florine worked as a successful photographer’s model and Jack was an actor.

At some point, her father also moved to Los Angeles (along with her mother) and became a U. S. referee in bankruptcy.

Florine and her husband remained happily married. Unfortunately, I could not find any information about possible offsprings. John died on September 30, 1980, in Dublin, Ireland. Florine never remarried after his death.

Florine Dickson McGuire died in 2006.

Esther Brodelet

Many pretty girls have completely wrong assumptions when they come to Hollywood. They think that good looks can get them to the top – since this hardy ever happened, after a couple of months or years they would leave Hollywood mostly unhappy, with bitter feelings towards the studio system that never gave them a chance to shine.  While the system was inherently flawed for sure, it was much better to simply accept the fact that only 3% of all screen players make a name out of themselves – other just scrap by from movie to movie but can still lead a happy and fulfilling life. Esther Brodelet knew this and wisely shunned any try to become a star, wholly realistic and truly satisfied to remain a chorus girl. Also as a special bonus, she had her own side job which poured in some decent money – kudos to Esther! Let’s learn more about her.

EARLY LIFE

Esther Brodelet was born on December 7, 1906, in Chicago, Illinois, to Francois and Anna Brodelet. Her father was Dutch (his mother was born in India, interesting lineage!), working as a cook at a restaurant where her mother (herself a daughter of Danish immigrants) was the waitress. In future years Esther would shave almost 10 years off her birth date – even her tombstone claims she was born in 1916. However, 1906 is the correct date, as her father immigrated to the US in 1902 and married her mother in about 1904.

The family lived as lodgers in a hotel when she was born. Her parents divorced in the mid 1910, and Esther and her mom lived in Los Angeles, where her mom ran a club house and put up accommodation for lodgers. Esther grew up in Los Angeles and started dancing at an early age, working as a dancer and chorine from the mid 1920s.

In 1932, she won a Fox film contract in a test that included more than 1,100 applicants, signed a contract and of she went!

CAREER

Esther began her career as a chorus girl, and appeared in a string of musicals – the weird, offbeat SF musical It’s Great to Be Alive, the light fluff Arizona to Broadway (not a musical, I admit, but heck!), one of my favorite Joan Crawford movies, Dancing Lady (boy, when Franchot Tone bought a whole theater just to see Joan dance, I melted! What a movie! Not high art or anything, but a girl can dream can she?), and the no-plot-no-brain-lots-of-fun George White’s 1935 Scandals.

Next Esther appeared in the completely forgotten Redheads on Parade. Likewise was Piernas de seda, a Spanish movie made in Hollywood. Esther get got a step up by appearing in movies at least sometimes mentioned today – Girls’ Dormitory is only famous for being an early Tyrone Power movie, but hey, at least somebody heard of it! Plus Herbert Marshall, oh man! He was the epitome of class and charm back then!

Esther was again a dancer in Charlie Chan on Broadway, one of the long running Charlie Chan movies. Ditto for her next picture, The Baroness and the Butler. The movie actually has a good story (taken from IMDB): This is a charming film set in Hungary, about a butler, Johann Porok (William Powell) who works for the Prime Minister (Henry Stephenson). The prime minister and his family, particularly his daughter Katrina (Annabella) are shocked when Johann is elected to Parliament – by the opposition party. What’s more, he wants to stay on as butler. Meanwhile, Katrina’s philandering husband (Josef Schildkraut) has a few political ambitions of his own. What to say? Powell could play roles like that in his sleep – and Anabella is absolutely gorgeous. While not a top actress not a great beauty, she has plenty of charm and knows how to work the camera. And I adore Joseph Schildkraut. Truly a wonderful actor, at best playing elegant schemers.

Esther became a model for her next movie, Thanks for Everything. a lackluster social farce about a sap who has the special talent of predicting stuff – and then the corporations are after him. Notable only for the role of Adolphe Menjou – otherwise avoid (the sap is played by Jack Haley and just meh!). Then came The Story of Alexander Graham Bell, a well-known classic that needs no introduction. Esther finally caught a credited role in Young as You Feel, a Jones family movie (and completely forgotten one!). Then came Lillian Russell, a solid biopic of (you guessed it) singer Lillian Russell, played by Alice Faye. Henry Fonda gives handsome support 🙂 Unfortunately, her next movie, Girl from Avenue A, is completely forgotten. But then came Brigham Young, a movie well-regarded today – while not a beloved classic like some other epics, it’s a very nicely done film – good production values, good cast (Tyrone Power, Linda Darnell,), everything done as it should. However, it is historically inaccurate, but that’s 1940s Hollywood for you!

Esther was then one of many chorus girls in Tall, Dark and Handsome, a pretty good gangster parody with Cesar Romero as a gangster with a heart of gold. Good stuff! Esther than appeared in the Fritz Lang classic western, Western Union. She came back to musicals with That Night in Rio – this one has a cliché plot (an actor impersonates a wealthy count and in the process seduces his wife), but the actors are all earnest and funny – Don Ameche, Alice Faye, Carmen Miranda and so on. Footlight Serenade is the same old musical – thin plot but plenty of good music and pizzazz. Ditto for Around the World. Esther then had a minor role in the Carole Landis penned Four Jills in a Jeep, about the tours four actresses made with USO overseas at the beginning of American participation in World War II. The actresses were Carole, Kay Francis, Martha Raye and Mitzi Mayfair. It’s actually a pretty good movie – just not a great one, but it does have that “based on a true story” extra value. Phil Silvers appears too much as a Sargent chaperoning the girls – and we get cameos by Betty Grable and Alice Faye!

Esther’s last four movies were all musicals: the remake of State Fair, the completely forgettable Mexican themed movie, Mexicana, Do You Love Me  a charming Cinderella themed movie where a matronly college dean, played by Maureen O’Hara, transforms into a glamorous singer and romances DIck Haymes in the interim, and for Esther’s last movie we have Mother Wore Tights, a so-so Betty Grable movie.

And that was it from Esther!

PRIVATE LIFE

Esther gave her beauty hint to the readers in 1934:

To keep my hands fresh and lovely I avoid putting them in water that is too hot or too cold. To keep them from getting dry, I apply a good hand lotion after washing, and massage them with a good tissue cream at night.

Esther worked on the side, as a hoofer at “The Jane Jones Club.” a Los Angeles whoopee asylum. In 1934, she dated William Harrison (Jack to you!) Dempsey for a few months.

Her next beau was William Boyd and Esther Brodelet. They were on and off for quite some time, then they got into a fight, then he left for Europe, then they reconcile, because of his numerous trans – Atlantic talks, finally to break up for good after he got back.

Esther then found an oil king you should be pursued her by buying diamond bracelets and Rolls Royces, but it didn’t lead to the altar.

Esther at one point left for England to appear in movie features made in their production studio at Elstree. She said to the papers:

“Prosperity is going to be reflected in more motion picture musicals, in other words, it will be out of the beanerics and into the best cafes for the decorative members of the tune films.”

Unfortunately, she got no credits from that time so it’s nearly impossible to know what exactly happened.

Durign her long career, Esther always professed a penchant for living a quiet and healthy life, as opposed to the hectic and party living Hollywood life most starlets were leading.

“On the Avenue” strolls Esther Brodelet, attractive tock girl, with the observation that popularity the chorine is to be shunned rather than sought. “Parties cut into your sleep so heavily that you lack the vivacity necessary to show your, best every day before the camera,” she affirms. “Girls who don’t sleep simply don’t stay in the movie. The movie chorine 1 a 10 o’clock girl If she’s smart and want to win a career. “And going out almost every night makes It impossible to keep, the same weight and figure. Irregular hours will do surprising things to you over a period of time.” And that, says Esther, Is the answer to the recurrent question about movie chorus girls and “dates.”

And this quote:

“While most chorus girls make a good salary,” says Esther, who draws her pay on the 20th-Century-Fox lot, “it is almost impossible for us to keep stocked with the gowns and jewelry necessary for party girls. “Entirely aside from the money, parties cut into sleep so heavily that you lack the vivacity you need before the cameras. Sleep and Stay “Girls who don’t sleep don’t stay in the movies.” When she’s making a picture, Esther goes to bed at 10 p. m. So if you’re planning a career as a movie dancer, don’t plan on having your fling in Hollywood. Esther says that’s a good way to be flung out. “

In 1937, Esther dated Douglas Fowley.

Here is a funny anecdote from the time Esther was filming Lillian Russell:

Discomfort and bother even torture such as shown above by Esther Brodelet and Bonnie Bannon, caused four of Hollywood’s film beauties to go on “strike” against the 1890 whale-boned corsets, which the studio insisted they wear all day during the shooting: of scenes for the movie, “Lillian Russell.” The girls, paid $16.50 each day. failed to report to the studio the second day, explaining they were laced so tightly they “couldn’t have swallowed an olive.”

At some point, Esther’s figure that was described as Hollywood’s loveliest. Not content with roles in movies, she decided to branch out in other industries. So, she became a farmer. Wait, what?!!

Oh yes, Esther used her earnings to start a chicken ranch in San Fernando Valley, where she conducts a lucrative off-screen business. Most of the stars at her studio bought the Brodelet brand of eggs at fair but nifty, prices. Here is a short article about with the colorful details:

Chorine Esther Brodelet’s chicken ranch is ‘no publicity gag, although though she owns only one acre, near Van Nuys, it has paid for itself in two years. No simple country lass, she learned about poultry In Chicago and says that, the chicken came before the egg, at least in her case. Seems that when she was a kid, somebody gave her an Faster chick, which in time surprised her by laying an egg. Using a sort of pa rid v system, Miss Brodelet ran it up into seven hens, made them earn her pocket-money. Thriftily, she now keeps two goats on her walnut-planted acre and fattens her chickens for market on milk and nut-meats. She puts personality into her business, ton loads her car with cartons of eggs every morning when she leaves for the studio and delivers them to the customers herself.

Talk about coincidences! Don Ameche and Esther Brodelet, both under contract to Twentieth Century-Fox, and both on their way to the studio to work in “Road to Rio,” tangled automobile on Sepulveda boulevard mile away from the lot. Neither was hurt and Don drove Esther the rest of the way to work.

After a long time of dating in Hollywood (of which we actually have little to no information), Esther married John Martin Amato in 1946. They met during the war when she was entertaining servicemen – he was a mechanic. Now, something about John. He was born on September 28, 1917 or 1920. Here are bits of his life (taken from his Find a grave site):

John was a graduate of Medford High School and Chauncey Hall. Mr. Amato furthered his education and obtained a Mechanical Engineering degree from Tufts University during WWII. Following his graduation, he attended Columbia University Midshipmen’s School and Harvard Communication School. In 1943, the US Navy sent the new officer, Ensign John Amato, to the Port Director Organization, Port Hueneme, California. There he was introduced by his late brother, Andrew J. Amato, to the love of his life, 20th Century Fox contract player and dancer, Esther Brodelet.

Their daughter Valerie Ann was born on July 26, 1948. Their son David John was born on December 19, 1949.  The family lived in Van Nuys then settled in Winchester because of John’s employment. John spent the next 30 years in the service of the developing High Tech defense and space industry where he contributed his intelligence and strong work ethic until his retirement in the early 1980s. After his retirement they moved to Acton, Maine and enjoyed living in such close proximity to the stunning natural sites like hills and lakes.

Esther Brodelet Amato died on December 21, 1989, in Portland, Maine.
Her husband John died on September 5, 2009, in Maine.

Mary Blackford

I noted several times in by previous blog posts that most of the actresses I have profiled actually had pretty normal lives – they went to Hollywood, failed and often slid into middle class family life. Most of them had happy lives, in retrospect. However, there are a few very unhappy exceptions, and Mary Blackford was one of them. Let’s find out more about her…

EARLY LIFE

Mary B. Blackford was born on July 22, 1914 in Bristol, Pennsylvania, to Charles Blackford and Ethel Maud Ludwig. Her older brother Albert was born on June 20, 1907. Her father worked as a car tire salesman.

The family moved to Kansas City, Missouri in 1918. They lived there with her paternal grandmother and aunt Anna. Her father died in 1923 – after his death her mother moved the family to Beverly Hills (probably that same year). Mary attended elementary and high school there. While a pupil at the school, in 1933, movie scouts found her. Here is a short article about her discovery:

The first contract of the new year to be awarded by Warner Brothers-First National has gone to Mary Blackford, 16-year-old high school pupil of Beverly Hills. With only two years’ experience in high school  dramatics to her credit, Miss Blackford, who will not receive her diploma until June, has been transported from obscurity and given this opportunity of becoming a motion picture star. Mary began her work immediately, dividing her time between the studio and her classes until she graduates in June.

Her name was changed to Janet Ford, but it was quickly reverted back to Mary.

Mary was the first student enrolled for the motion picture course under Ivan Simpson, veteran English actor. And thus her career started.

CAREER

Unfortunately, Mary appeared in only three movies and a most promising career was thus cut short. The first movie was Merrily Yours, a Shirley Temple short. The only reason anyone has to see this movie is, of course, Shirley Temple. It’s not a particularly good short – it’s not horrible mind you, but far from something you would recommend to anyone. The main character is a bratty teenager at odds with his sister (played by Shirley) who falls in love with Mary when she moved next door. How, original, go figure! But, it was a start…

The second one was The Sweetheart of Sigma Chi, a cute preppy movie about college love affairs. Mary Carlisle plays a flirty lady who has all the lads crazy for her – then she fall sin love with a non nonsense athlete played by Buster Crabbe. As you can see, not big brainer, but immensely fun and light weight – perfect for Depression era audiences and Sunday afternoon viewings. Many of the players later catapulted to stardom – Mary, Buster, Charles Starrett, Ted Fio Rito and so on. Mary plays of the sorority girls.

Mary’s last movie before the forcible termination of her career was Love Time, a completely lost and forgotten movie today. It’s a biopic of composer Franz Schubert, and with a cats that is absolutely stunning to look at: Nils Asther, Pat Paterson and so on. Unfortunately I could find nothing on the movie, so let’s just skip it.

PRIVATE LIFE

Mary gave a beauty hint to her readers:

For a quick facial treatment take a rake of yeast and mix the paste consistently with peroxide. Apply this paste to the face after It has been cleansed with cream. Wash off with cold water when it has dried.

Here is a short story on how Mary got her role in:

Mary Blackford got a Job In pictures Indirectly by hiding her blonde hair tinder a dark wig. She applied for the stage role of the young girl In “Ah, Wilderness;” with Will Rogers, and learned that one reason she was not accepted was her blonde tresses. She applied again, In’ the disguise, and got the job. After dyeing her hair for the run of the play, she slipped into pictures and is playing Pat Paterson’s sister In “Serenade.”

It seemed Mary was on her way up. However, something catastrophic happened in October 1934 . Mary became paralyzed from the neck down from an injury suffered in an automobile accident (the automobile she was a passenger in hit a light pole at Santa Monica and Hoover). It was never revealed with whom she was in the car – this is very strange and one has to wonder why is it like this? Our hyperactive imagination probably can come up with a few explanations in just two seconds…

Doctors said a broken vertebra is causing pressure against certain nerves. They say she may live weeks or a few months, but paralysis will never leave her. It was just one month after she finished her first important picture role.

Here is a short article about how her friends helped her:

The golden-haired youngster suffered a fracture of her neck vertebrae and surgeons decreed that she must spend the rest of her life immobile, with the broken neck preventing use of any of her members. ‘Puppets’ came to Rescue But Mary’s friends, most of them like herself members of the Puppet Club of younger screen folk, rallied around, and a parade of trips to important surgeons began. Will Rogers volunteered to pay some of the heavy expenses, this being one of that beloved actor’s secret kindnesses no one learned during his lifetime. Joan Crawford had Miss Blackford cared for for a time in a hospital room Joan endows at Hollywood Hospital. The “Puppets,” with Helen Mack, Paula and Dorothy Stone, Lois Wilson, Anita Louise and Tom Brown in the forefront, then took over the case of their chum. With Gertrude and Grace Durkin, Sue Carol, Patricia Ellis, Anne Shirley, Billy Ganney, Eddie Rubin, Henry Willson, Jimmy Bush, Jimmy Ellison, Don Barry, Hugh Daniel, Stanley Davis and Marshall Duffield helping; they staged a big benefit at Coconut Grove some months ago. With Benny Rubin, Orchestra Leader Ted Fiorito and Dick Powell contributing talent, they managed to raise $5,000.  This paid for more trips to specialists for Miss Blackford, but when the fund recently dwindled to $600 Bruce Barton, the author, stepped into the breach. Barton recently had been elated when his eighteen -year -old daughter Betsy was restored to health by Milton H. Berry, a former Chicagoan, who.operates the Berry Institution for the muscular retraining’ of paralyzed persons near Hollywood. Barton tendered $2,500 to the man whom nearly all Hollywood calls affectionately as “Doc” Berry and stipulated the money should be used for the most deserving case Berry knew. Berry chose Mary Blackford, who was recommended to him by Paula Stone. The girl, who has not been able to move one of her members in more than a year, already has shown improvement under the treatment which Berry calls “muscular re-education”.

Mary, far from being idle, still smiling hopefully, took vocal lessons, ambitious for a radio career. Some time later her friends arranged to have her appear on one of Bing Crosby’s programs (she will be taken to the studio in an ambulance), for which she was paid. She also boasted to the papers how she was able to attend a theater. In her wheel chair she attended a performance in downtown Los Angeles and took a photo with Donald Barry, a member of the cast.

Months went by and Mary was still paralyzed and in about the same condition she was after the accident. Her contact with the outside world was furnished in the people who come to see her. The whole crowd who rallied to her aid when she was stricken still remember, and most of them visit her regularly. her best friend was Paula Stone, actress of director Fred Stone. Unfortunately, a member of the group, Junior Durkin, died in a tragic automobile accident in 1935 (Jackie Cooper was in the car and his father was driving, but only Jackie survived).

For a time there  a false impression going the rounds that Mary Blackford was undergoing a miraculous recovery. The papers even reported that the doctors gave her a green light that she could walk again some day. Milton H. Berry refuted these claims and reported that she shows amazing improvement but that it is a slow process.

However, this story does not have a happy ending. The date was September 25, 1937. Mary had gone to the beach for a complete rest. She had suffered several fainting spells in recent months, but had no premonition of the end. In fact, she wrote her mother: “I have never been so happy in my life.”

Then she went into another fainting spell and died. Many of the Hollywood folks who helped her attended her funeral. Sadly, her brother died in 1953 and her mother outlived them all, dying in 1963.

PS: Betsey Barton, the daughter of the mentioned author Bruce Barton, was also injured in a car accident and lost the use of her legs, but learned to reinvent herself and became a top author and painter. Learn more about her truly inspiring life by Googling her name and reading this article: http://archives.chicagotribune.com/1944/11/19/page/104/article/miss-barton-offers-hope-to-disabled