Gail Goodson

Gail Goodson was a society girl (a dentists’ daughter) who tried movies for fun and dropped her career not long after she got married. Heard that¬†story a hundred times before, and just serves to prove that without real dedication and love for the art, it’s hard to keep your head above the water in Hollywood (and sometimes even that is harldy enough!). And now let’s see some more of Gail (sorry, I could only find two small photos of her ūüė¶ ) …

EARLY LIFE

Gail Elizabeth Goodson was born on August 10, 1916, in Denver, Colorado, to Galen Roscoe Goodson and Ethel Ulmer, their only child.¬†¬†Her father was born in Hopkins, Missouri, and was a graduate of the University of Denver, working as a dentist. For the first ten years of Gail’s life they lived in Denver where she attended elementary school and was active in winter sports.

The family moved to Los Angeles in 1927, and Galen quickly found his niche in the local dentist trade – he became a favorite among movie people. Gail grew up in affluence in Beverly Hills (she was part of the Los Angeles genteel society and often attended soirees and tea parties), and attended Los Angeles High School.

So, how did Gail, who had no show biz aspirations, end up an actress? Well, her father was Eddie Cantor’s dentist and her smile won her the Eddie’s notice when he visited the office one time. He had seen her¬†the year before, and she seemed just a little girl, wearing some of her dad’s teeth straightening gold bands. He then left Hollywood and some time, and when the comedian returned, he saw Gail on the day she graduated from high school in 1934, and was so Impressed by her radiance and grown up appearance that he got her a screen test with his producer, Sam Goldwyn. She passed with flying colors and became an instant Goldwyn girl!

CAREER

Gail made her movie debut in the legendary¬†Kid Millions, where so many starlets acted as Goldwyn girls. The plot goes like this: Eddie plays a New York barge boy, who inherits an Egyptian treasure from his archaeologist father. Once in Egypt he is surrounded by a bevy of con artists both male and female, who try to get their hands on his money. And the story is perfect backdrop for Eddie’s unique brand of talent, and for some major musical stars to show off their prowess (watch out for Ethel Merman, Ann Sothern, Nicholas Brothers, Doris Davenport and so on). Pure enjoyment without much brain work, it’s a great Depression era musical.

Gail’s second movie was¬†Folies Berg√®re de Paris, a delightful Maurice Chavalier comedy. It has an outstanding cast – Maurice, Merle Oberon, Ann Sothern, a funny and simple story (you heard it a hundred times before – An entertainer impersonates a look-alike banker, causing comic confusion for wife and girlfriend.), and good dancing and music. What more do you need? Next Gail appeared in an Our gang short,¬†The Pinch Singer. It a minor and forgotten effort, more or less.

As she was Cantor’s progetee, she appeared in the last movie Eddie and Sam Goldwyn made together –¬†Strike Me Pink. It’s an uneven effort, to say at least – much of the movie is ponderous and repetitive, and then the last 20 minutes turn into a top class farce, the best of what Cantor had to offer. The plot is pretty¬†simple: meek Eddie Pink (played by Cantor of course) becomes manager of an amusement park beset by mobsters. Throw in some stalwart performers like and Ethel Merman as his leading lady, and you have a good cast if nothing else, and some great dance numbers with the Goldwyn girls (of which Gail was a member). And then Gail left the screen to marry.

Unlike many actresses that try to give up, Gail had her biggest claim to fame /(which isn’t saying much), in 1948, when she appeared in¬†Joan of Arc¬†– as Ingrid Berman’s armor double who did all the stunts! Incredible! I never tought that Gail had it in her to become a stuntman. Anyway, this is the movie people will remember from Gail’s filmography, and while it’s far from being the best movie made about Joan of Arc (you should watch the stunning silent movie,¬†The Passion of Joan of Arc), it’s actually a solid historical epic. It was directed by Victor Fleming, who also helmed Gone with the wind, and of course it’s a lesser movie (but it’s not fair to compare any movie with GWTW), but Ingrid Bergman is simply outstanding and gives one of her best performances – and she had so many of them! Also the supporting cast is pretty impressive too (J. Carroll Naish, Ward Bond, Gene Lockhart…).

That was it from Gail!

PRIVATE LIFE

Gail gave a beauty hint to devoted readers in 1934:

Laughter is one of the brightest things in life. It may make wrinkles in time, bu they’re pleasant wrinkles and won’t detract from the charm of the wearer.

How true! Unknown to the papers, when she landed in Hollywood, Gail was already deeply involved with a man she would marry. Here is a short article about her upcoming nuptials in 1934, not long after she became a Goldwyn girl:

GLASSFORD SON WEDS ACTRESS: Gail Goodson, screen actress and daughter of Los Angeles dentist, taken as bride by Guy Glassford, son of Washington Police Chief who came to national attention in connection with bonus march.  Gail Goodson becomes sis Bride at Agua Calienle. Gail Goodson, 18-year-old motion-picture actress, and Guy Glassford, 23, son of Brig.-Gen. Pelham D. Glassford, were married yesterday at the Hotel Agua Caliente, Baja California, according to advice received here last night. The couple flew to the Lower California resort early yesterday. The bride is the daughter of Dr. and Mrs. Galen R. Goodson, of 100 North Sycamore avenue, and was graduated last year from Los Angeles High School.

Guy Carleton Glassford was born on November 8, 1912, in New York City, to Pelham and Cora Glassford. As noted, his father was a police chief. They moved to Texas and then to Los Angeles. He worked as a credit manager for a living.

The Glassfords lived the high life in Beverly Hills, but the marriage did not work out and they divorced in about 1938. Glassford remarried to Utah native Marjorie Robinson, had a son, and died in February 1974 in Denver, Colorado.

Gail started to date her future second husband, Wilfred Donald Burgess, in late 1939. They were often seen in hip nightspots and he gifted her with a magnificent mink coat. They married on March 13, 1941, in Los Angeles. Here is a short description of the ceremony:

Mr and Mrs. Goodson announced the marriage of their daughter Gail to W. Donald Burgess last evening. Dean Ernest Holmes officiated in the presence of about 60 guests. The bride was gowned in ice blue meline with bouffant skirt and satin bodice. Her veil of royal purple meline was held in place by a headdress of fresh violas and violets. She carried a muff of violets and purple orchids. Mrs. J. Francis Gaas, as matron of honor, was in gray chiffon with a headdress of gray tulle with pink roses and delphinium. She carried a muff of the same flowers. Frederick Kessler served as best man.

Burgess was born in Canada in 1912 but moved to the US with his parents in 1922.  He worked as a planter Tendant Supervisor. The marriage did not last long and they divorced in about 1945. Burgess became a naturalized citizen of the US in 1948 and died in March 26, 1978.

Gail’s career was long time over by then, and she slipped from view until 1947, when this announcement was seen in the papers:

Gail Goodson Will Be Bride of New Yorker Dr. and Mrs. Galen Roscoe Goodson of Beverly Hills announce the engagement of their daughter Gail to Alfred Hance Savage of New York, son of Mrs. Harlow Dow Savage of Scars-dale, N.Y., and the late Mr. Savage. The wedding Is planned for May at the Savage estate in Scarsdale. The newlyweds will make their home in New York but plan a honeymoon trip to Los Angeles. At that time Dr. and Mrs. Goodson will entertain at a reception in their new home, 1122 Calle Vista, Beverly Hills.

Alfred Savage was born in 1911 in Kentucky, to Harlow and Edna Savage. He graduated from Phillip Exeter Academy and moved to New York. He worked as a manager of personnel relations for The New York Daily News.

The couple lived in¬†New York and had two daughters, Galen (born in 1949) and Clinton (born on December 15, 1950). Gail became a founder and first president of the Bronx¬≠ville Committee of the National Mental Health Association, and was very active in the Youth Consultation Service and Reach‚Äźto‚ÄźRecovery, an organization for women who have undergone breast surgery.

Gail Goodson Savage died from cancer on June 28, 1964 in New York City. Gail’s widower Alfred Savage died on January 19, 1982 in Florida.

 

Wilma Francis

Sometimes, we want our actresses not to be cute girls next door like Rosemary Lane or Teresa Wright, but full-blown, over the top divas. Someone like Bette Davis or Gloria Swanson. Well, Wilma Francis was a diva. She was flamboyant, did things her own way and dated men by the bucket-load. Unfortunately, she never achieved a level of fame to make her comparable to other well known divas, but it seems she sure had a fun life!

EARLY LIFE

Wilma Francis Sareussen was born on November 26, 1917, in New Orleans, Louisiana, to John Sareussen and Frances Eleanor Ader. Her father was a wealthy ship chandler but by no means was he a true Southerner¬†– he was born in Norway. Her mother did come from an old Louisiana family (think Scarlett O’Hara!). Wilma’s older sister Elinor Marie was born on December 10, 1915. The family resided in New Orleans, where Wilma grew up.

After graduating from high school, Wilma attended Tulane and Loyola universities, studying journalism. Now, how the story goes from here makes little sense – she, daughter of a prominent family and educated in top schools, while a student, ended up in a¬†typing pool in an insurance company office in New Orleans. What?!! Anyway, this was the story she later sold to the papers, so I don’t know if this is true or invented, but why did they have to invent it anyway? Cinderella syndrome?

Anyway, Wilma landed in Hollywood because a scout for a film company (Ben Piazza) spotted her when she was working in the office of the insurance company, and signed her with Paramount.

CAREER

Wilma made her debut in¬†Florida Special, a run of the mill crime movie with Jackie Oakie as a worldly journalist trying to stop a train robbery. Yawn! been there, seen that at least a hundred times… Her next movie,¬†And Sudden Death, was hardly any better – featuring Randolph Scott and Frances Drake, it was a cautionary tale about traffic and speeding. As it usually happens in much films, traffic cop falls for a young woman who simply drives too fast… Blah, blah.. It goes into overt dramatics too soon and becomes a sappy, low budget miss. It’s a shame, since the topic of driving too fast and too furious in traffic is very relevant today (and boy, so much!).

Wilma finally snagged a credited role in Lady Be Careful, but the movie is so utterly forgotten today there is nothing I can write about it. next. The same goes for her netx movie, Hideaway Girl. 1937 started a bit better for Wilma Рher first movie of the year, Bank Alarm, was a bland and uninspiring film about G men fighting against a group of bank robbers, but at least the movie left the smallest of traces for prosperity. Unfortunately, this did not mean further career enhancements for Wilma Рshe spent the rest of 1937 far from the movie cameras, and only came back in 1938 with Trade Winds, a witty, sparking and elegant screwball comedy, with a top-notch cast (Joan Bennet!! Fredric March!!) and more than one twist to keep you occupation.

Wilma then left Hollywood for a short time, returning in 1940 to make¬†Stolen Paradise, where her then husband, Leon Janney, was playing the lead. Unfortunately it was directed by the king of camp,¬†Louis Gasnier, who ably helms it into “bad acting and bad script territory from scene one. The story is not half bad, and actually pretty deep in some aspects – a young man who wants to become a priest falls in love with his step sister and does not know how to deal with his emotions – it really sounds good, but the execution is awful. Skip! Next came the only slightly trashy Under Age¬†– yep, as the title suggest, the girl here and pretty, nimble and under age. ¬†It’s an early movie by future legend Edward Drmytryk, but boy, while he does show signs of brilliance, it’s still way too much. The muddled plot is a hotbed of complicated feelings, bratty teens and love triangles. Skip. Wilma’s last and best movie from this batch was¬†Borrowed Hero, a more than decent B programmer about a lawyer who after a stint of bad luck finally hits the jackpot – and how his life unravels afterwards. Florence Rice is in it – a plus for sure!

In the 1940’s she worked for a while as an assistant to director Sam Wood’and made her last billed appearance in a motion picture in Wood’s 1945 film Guest Wife. She then did some TV work (which I will not go into any detail), and appeared in minor roles in two more movies –¬†Hotel¬†and¬†Airport. And that was all from Wilma!!

PRIVATE LIFE

While in Hollywood, in her spare time, Wilma builds boat models. She revealed to the press that she learned the craft from her father, by then a retired naval officer.

Since Wilma was of a prestigious ancestry, bits and pieces were written about her family in the papers. Here is an early example:

One of Paramount’s younger players, Wilma Francis, has the most interesting antique bracelet in Hollywood. It is a family heirloom and has been handed down for many years with a legend which traces back to Cellini’s days when the piece of jewelry is supposed to have been made by this famous master. It is of dull gold with a floral tracery which has been filled la with black platinum. The design resembles a wide leather strap with a buckle and the bracelet has a safety clasp which is held with a fine golden chain.

Wilma started dating Conrad Nagel in August 1936, and their relationship blossomed nicely in the comings months. Already in November of 1936 there were rumors that they might wed. She told the press: “Conrad is the dearest person in Hollywood. We are constant companions. Of course, I am only 18 I’ll be 19 on Thanksgiving day. And Conrad is 37. Marrying him wouldn’t hurt my career.” However, there was a lull in the fairytale when Paramount refused to renew her contract Wilma used the opportunity to visit her mother. At the train to bid her farewell was none other than Conrad Nagel. The trip sparked a¬†“finis” to their romance because at the time Wilma¬†was doubtful whether she would return again to resume her career. However, Wilma returned to Hollywood, but not to Conrad. After a brief fling with director Wesley Ruggles, from March until May 1937, she dated noted novelist B. P. Schulberg. After she ditched Schulberg, she resumed with Conrad for several months in mid to late 1937. Again, there were rumors of their impending nuptials. They dated, on and off, for more than a year, breaking up in December 1938. In the interim, Wilma dated Latin charmer¬†Antonio Moreno.

In early 1939, Wilma took up with Leon Janney, juvenile actor. They were married in March of the the same year, although they kept the marriage a secret from the press for at least four months.  Janney was born on April 1, 1917 in Ogden, Utah. He started acting in earnest in 1927, when he was 17 years old. He was very active until 1932, and afterwards he got into the theater, where he met Wilma. They were all lovely dovely until June 1940, when something bad happened and they separated in August Рthey reconciled in September and tried again. This was a flop also Рthey separated again in October, tried to patch things up but were kaput by December 1940 and started divorce proceedings early in 1941. Wilma charged cruelty (she charged he threw a pack of cards at her during a bridge game) and they got their final decree in May 1941. Janney remarried twice and died in 1980 in Mexico.

Wilma then changed her life a great deal, got out of acting (more or less), and moved to New York.  Then, in November 1946, Wilma hit the papers big time as a witness in a case of a major money swindle. The main perpetrator was Jimmy Collins. This is a short excerpt from the article about the swindle:

Sally Haines, blond film actress and dancer, admitted last night that she was a close friend of Jimmy Collins, sought as suspect in the Mergan-thaler Linotype Co. swindle in New York. Her attorney, Milton M. Golden, went further. He admitted that she and Collins shared a Safety deposit box in a New York hank, the box which New York police said yielded $5400 in cash. Golden also said Collins had been living in a New York hotel where Miss Haines and her actress friend, Wilma Francis, shared an apartment. However, as to reports that Collins helped finance a newly opened night club in Palm Springs, Golden was firm. “Not that I know of,” he said. The attorney explained the safe deposit box and its contents. “Yes,” he said, “the box is hers. The money is hers, too. There also probably were some other things in the box a few trinkets and some Jewelry.” ‘Might Have Married’ He explained the joint use of the deposit box by saying, “Well, you know, they were very good friends. It was possible that a marriage might have developed, from their friendship.” Miss Haines, Miss Francis and Golden told about the Collins friendship at a meeting with the, press in the home of AIDS POLICE Glenda Farrell gave information about missing swindle suspect. W) Wirept AT LARGE James Collins, also known as Julius Davis, who is sought in case, Mrs. Sylvia Garrett, 8235 Lincoln Terrace, in the Sunset Strip district. “I know him very well,” Miss Haines, former wife of Comedian Bert¬†Wheeler, said. “I’ve known him about 14 months. However, I was not married to him. I last saw him Wednesday, We had been at Palm, Springs with a party attending the opening .of a club there. ,,The¬†party returned and I saw him off oh’ an American-AU’iines plane. ‘ ‘ “He seemed a little nervous when he left, but I thought nothing of that. He said he would telephone me Friday night, but I didn’t hear from him. Knew Little. About Him “He is a man of a great deal of charm,” she said.. “Hp’s a medium-sized man, blue-eyed with a longish face, He looks something like Fred Astaire with hair,’ “I know surprisingly little about him considering how long I’ve known him,” she continued. “You know how it is. You don’t ask a person all about his business, where he’s from and who his friends and relatives are. He gave me a telephone number which ho said was that of his Importing firm in New York, where I could reach him. He said he was 43. Now I hear he is 53 or 37 or something else,” Miss Francis said she also knew Collins but nothing of his background, the city was that Burke and his wife .were ineligible for occupancy of tho veterans’ housing project because he had not served in the military forces during the war. The Burkes were moved from Rodger Young Village, another veterans’ home center in Griffith Park, some days ago when their eligibility was contested there. They then took up residence in the Channel Heights unit” …

After this unfortunate accident, Wilma returned to Los Angeles in December 1946, but by January 1947 she was bedded, with a nervous breakdown, probably due her involvement with Collins. By May, she got her groove back and was beaued by Dane Clark. Later in the year, she was seen with comedian Lew Parker.

In May 1949 there were rumor she’s hot going to altar-trek with Stacy Harris, star of radio’s “Your F.B.I.” Unfortunately, they were just rumors, and Wilma did not wed Stacy. In May 1950, she was pursued by actor Eddie Norris.

On September 29, 1951, Wilma married Roger Valmy. Valmy was quite a colorful character. Born in Egypt on October 1912, he moved to Paris with his mother and was a horse racing champion before the fall of Paris during WW2. He moved to the US and started a highly successful real estate agency in California. He was married once before in 1943 to Ruth Ownbey, a model and starlet. Later he dated and was very serious about heiress Barbara Hutton.

Wilma and Roger lived the high life in Beverly Hills, as she was Southern royalty and he was a wealthy and highly charming real estate tycoon. Unfortunately divorced after less than two years of marriage in mid 1953.

After he and Wilma divorced, Roger was married two more times Рto Margarett Smith in the early 1960. They divorced in 1972 for the first time, remarried in 1974 and divorced not long after in 1976. In 1977 he was married to his last wife, Dana Kathleen Bond. He died in 2004 at the age of 92.

Wilma continued to date, but never remarried. Some of her post-marriage beaus were Jake Ehrlich Jr. in 1956. She returned to Louisiana to live close to her sister, Elinor, and worked as a very successful casting director.

In May 1958, she got into newspaper again, but not for a nice things Рshe changed four charges, including kidnaping, against a Gretna, La., policeman as the result of a fracas at a ferry landing there on April 2. Miss Sareussen, who used the name Wilma Francis in the movies, filed the charges with Justice of the Peace L. L. Traught of Gretna against Policeman Alvin Bladsacker. Gretna is across the Mississippi River from New Orleans. Miss Sareusson makes her home in New Orleans. She charged Bladsacker with assault and battery, kidnaping. false imprisonment and unauthorized use of movable property (her car).

I could not find any more information about the case, so let’s assume it just let it flow. Wilma completely falls of the radar from then on.

Wilma Francis died on in.

 

Dorinda Clifton

Dorinda Clifton started her movie careeer in a big – playing a leading role, receiving loads of publicity and critical plaudits. However, even with this powerful platform, she failed to gather any real attention. Afterwards, she valiantly tried to revive her career for more than 5 years, but after getting less and less attention, gave up movies to raise a family and later, become a writer.

EARLY LIFE

Dorinda Clifton was born on April 27, 1928, in Los Angeles, California, to Elmer Clifton and Helen Kiely. Her older sister, Patricia, was born in 1925 somewhere at sea (I wonder where!). Her younger brother, Elmer Jr, was born on April 20, 1932.

Dorinda grew up in the movie colony called Hollywood Рher father was a movie director who worked with many silent movie notables. His short bio, taken from IMDB:

He acted on the stage from 1907 and worked with D.W. Griffith in various capacities between 1913 and 1922, including appearances in The Birth of a Nation (1915) and Intolerance: Love’s Struggle Throughout the Ages (1916). He became a director in 1917, with his best-known production probably being the big-budget whaling epic Down to the Sea in Ships (1922), which brought Clara Bow to the attention of audiences. Unfortunately, his career began to wane in the late 1920s; although he occasionally worked for such “major” studios as Columbia or RKO, he spent most of the rest of his career mired in the depths of Poverty Row, writing and/or directing low-budget westerns and thrillers for such low-rent studios as PRC and even lower-budget exploitation pictures for such quickie producers as J.D. Kendis and the Weiss Brothers.

It came as no surprise that Dorinda also wanted to continue the family tradition and to act. She was snatched by Columbia before she even graduated from high school, as this article can attest:

Columbia’s new 17 – year – old discovery, Dorinda Clifton, is starting her screen career on the exact spot where her father worked 30 years ago. The location is Columbia’s branch studio on Sunset boulevard at Lyman place, where Dorinda is playing the title role in the new movie version of Gene Stratton Porter’s “Girl of the Limberlost.” In 1915, Dorinda’s father, Elmer Clifton, was a young leading man in D. W. Griffith’s “Birth of a Nation,” which was made on outdoor stages at precisely the same place.

And thus her career started.

CAREER

Dorinda appeared in only one movie for Columbia, The Girl of the Limberlost. Based on the classic novel by Indiana authoress Gene Stratton-Porter, it’s raw, brutal and unpleasant, about a girl whose own mother hates her, but despite the sombre plot, the movie never goes over the line into truly hard stuff, as this is still Hollywood, no matter the story, they always make it a cut or two above depressed. Dorinda played the lead, and great things were expected from her. Unfortunately, the movie failed to gather much interest among the public despite genereally warm reviews -as a result, it’s barely remembered today, and Dorinda’s career tanked.

However, she chose to march on. She lost her Columbia contract, but signed with a poverty row studio. So, her next movie, was¬†The Marauders. What can I say, low-budget westerns yet again! This is an above average Hopalong Cassidy movie, but it’s still a low-budget western so no bueno as far as I’m concerned.

Dorinda won a contract with MGM, hoping to obtain stardom thru a different path. MGM put her in a string of different genres, and she started her MGM years in two pretty famous musicals –¬†On the Town¬†and¬†Annie Get Your Gun. She than branched into thrillers with¬†Shadow on the Wall, an interesting movie which gave Ann Sothern ¬†chance to play drama – and that didn’t happen often, mind you. Strong support is given by the ever suave Zachary Scott and Gigi Perreau.

Dorinda went back to musicals, and appeared in a string of them –¬†Hit Parade of 1951,¬†Grounds for Marriage¬†(a Kathryn Grayson/Van Johnson vechicle),¬†Call Me Mister¬†(this time a Betty Grable/Dan Dailey movie) and¬†Excuse My Dust.

Then it was back t more serious movie fare with¬†Slaughter Trail. Serious only in name – it’s another western, not quite a slow budget as Hopalong Casid but not a whole lot more. It does have a more impressive cast (Brian Donlevy, Virginia Grey), but it’s still the same old Cowboys vs Indians.

The last batch of movies Dorinda made under her MGM contract were excellent musicals –¬†The Belle of New York¬†(the weakest of the bunch, but still a good enough musical with Fred Astaire),¬†Singin’ in the Rain¬†(what more do I need to say?),¬†Million Dollar Mermaid¬†(one of Escther William’s best),¬†Stars and Stripes Forever¬†(worth seeing for Clifton Webb if nothing else) and¬†The Band Wagon¬†(the best Cyd Charisse and Fred Astaire pairing). Dorinda’s last two movies were adventures:¬†The Golden Blade, a mid tier Arabian adventure type, with Rock Hudson and Piper Laurie, and¬†Moonfleet, a beguiling mix of swashbuckling movie and Gothic horror. The male lead is Stewart Granger, truly a fitting replacament for the aging Errol Flynn, and the rest of the cast is equally good – George Sanders, Joan Greenwood, Viveca Lindfors.

After her MGM contract ended, Dorinda gave up on movies to devote herself to family life.

PRIVATE LIFE

For a time in 1949, Forinda was slated to¬†marry Anson Bond, a ‚Äúquickie‚ÄĚ producer, when his divorce from Maxine Violet Nash was made final. Bond was a business partner of her father, and it seemed to me the scenario of “marrying the boss’ daughter” more than a love match. However, fate intervened – Dorinda’s father died in 1949, and she broke up the engagement not long after.

met her first husband, William K. Nelson, when served as Youth Director for the Congregational Church in Hollywood. They married in 1951.

William “Ace” K. Nelson was born Sept. 7, 1922, in Hollywood, California. Here is a short summary of his life, taken from his obituary:

Ace was a graduate of Hollywood High School and Occidental College. He got his nickname when he was playing guard on a never-defeated Hollywood High School basketball team. At the final bell he flung the ball from beyond mid-court and scored the winning basket. The next day, the papers reported Bill “Ace” Nelson’s amazing shot. The nickname followed him to college and onward.

While still at Occidental, Ace joined the Navy’s officers training corps, and after Pearl Harbor was sent to Columbia University to be trained as a “90-day wonder” Naval officer. He commanded an LST for three years in the Pacific during World War II. His was the flagship of his 60-ship convoy.

After graduation from Occidental with a major in economics, Ace and his friend Robert Hayward decided they didn’t want to sit behind desks all their lives. They therefore hired an old and wise Swedish carpenter to teach them the trade by building a house with them. Ace continued to be a (very contented) carpenter-contractor for his working life

The couple had three sons: Alec, born on August 22, 1953, Mark, born on October 29, 1953, and David, born on May 21, 1959. The family lived in Corona Del Mar, California. Dorinda gave up her career by that time and was a devoted mother and wife.

The Nelsons divorced in 1967, and William remarried to Joni, and moved to Oregon. He died in 2008.

Dorinda married her second husband, Anthony Lee Gorsline, on July 5, 1970. Gorsline was born on May 4, 1930, in California. He was married once before, to Stephanie Lorna Herrmann, in 1953, and they divorced sometime in the 1960s.

The couple moved to Brownsville, Oregon. Unfortunately, they divorced in 1976. Dorinda continued to live in Oregon and never remarried. Gorsline also stayed in the same city.

Dorinda became a succesful writer and was very active n the aristical communit on the West Coast. She started writing her memoir, and did so partial yin the 100 years old artist’s retreat, MacDowell Colony. When asked about her reasons for becoming a writer, she said:

“The reason I write is I have all these ghosts in my past, and I want to have them tell the story. Then I don’t have to live with this story any more.”

She finally published her memoir,¬†Woman In The Water: A Memoir Of Growing Up In Hollywoodland ¬†(check it up on the Amazon link), in 2005. The book was warly recieved and she continued writing, mostly childen’s books. Some of her works are: Take the cake, Everybody is somebody and Ginger Bird. She retired from writing in 2007.

Dorinda Clifton died on February 18, 2009, in Brownsville, Oregon. Her former husband, Anthony Gorsline, died just few months later, on June 17, 2009.

 

 

Dorothy Dearing

dorothydearing3

Dorothy Dearing was another dancer who broke into movies, but found little success in her new career, managing plenty of uncredited roles. However, after Dorothy turned her life around and remade herself for the second time, this time as a succesful businesswoman. Bravo to her! Now, let’s hear her story!

EARLY LIFE

Dorothy Dearing was born¬†on April 17, 1913, in Parachute, Colorado, to Erdix Dearing and Elizabeth “Bessie” Wilson. Her father worked¬†as a commercial inker. Her older brother, Erdix, was born in 1912, and her younger brother, Edward, was born in 1916. The family moved to Alhambra, California not long after Edward was born. Dorothy attended elementary and high school there.

Her father died in 1925. Her mother rented the house to tenants for some extra money, but in order to feed the family, both Erdix and Dorothy had to go to work. Erdix worked as a salesman in a drug store, and Dorothy was a dancing teacher (at only 16 years old!). Her love for dancing soon overrode everything else, and, after she graduated from high school, she set her sights to Hollywood and left for Los Angeles with her mother.

Dorothy was one of those actresses that didn’t land a contract right away, in fact, she danced in Busby Berekeley’s shows by night, worked as a secretary by day and went to as many auditions as she could, visiting tons of casting agents. One of them gave her a chance, she got a movie contract and started her career in 1933 for 20th Century Fox.

CAREER

Dorothy appeared unciedted in fluffy, happy-go-lucky musicals –¬†Dancing Lady,¬†Redheads on Parade¬†and¬†Song and Dance Man. As she was a trained dancer, this was probably easy-peasy for her. All of these movies are no works of art, but are more than fun and nice on the eyes.

dorothydearing5Dorothy then turned to a bit more serious fare with¬†Girls’ Dormitory, an insipid drama-romance about a (gasp) girls dormitory, with Simone Simon in the lead. Tyrone Power was a secundary male character then. Then, Dorothy took a year-long break from movies (I guess it was for martial reason, but can’t be sure), and returned in 1938. Her first movie was Alexander’s Ragtime Band¬†– and guess who was the lead? Tyrone Power, of course, in one of his Alice face musicals. It’s a pretty good movie, especially interesting to nostalgia people. Dorothy then had her first credited role in Up the River, a likeable and lively comedy about con men who work their own football team (the story was remade later with Spencer Tracy). For more about Tail Spin, perhaps the pinnacle of Dorothy’s career, read the Private life section. It’s Stage door just swap acting with aviation. Dorothy then had¬†another credited role in the mediocre drama¬†Wife, Husband and Friend, one of the tons of Loretta Young movies from the 1930s (that almost nobody remembers today).

Dorothy then appeared in¬†Hotel for Women, one of the best women’s movies of the 1930s, with the young¬†Linda Darnell in the lead (who goes on to live in the hotel for women), and an impressive supporting cast to boot (Ann Sothern, Jean Rogers, Lynn Bari, June Gale)… A year later, Dorothy also appeared in the sequel – Free, Blonde and 21, and this time Lynn Bari had the cake!

Dorothy returned to musicals in the pastiche Hollywood Cavalcade (with Alice Faye in the lead, again), and the so-so biographical movie, Swanee River, about songwriter Stephen Foster. She then appeared in a rare Lynn Bari vehicle, City of Chance, a mid tier comedy/drama about a girl going to the big city so she can save her boyfriend from becoming a gambling addict.

Next up was the pale remake of Wizard of Oz –¬†The Blue Bird, with Shirley Temple. Nothing special to see here, so skip unless you are a Shirley fan. Then there was¬†Girl in 313, a typical B movie, blend of crime, heist and romance, with the evanescent Florence Rice in the lead, playing a jewel thief. It was followed by¬†The Great Profile, a thin but highly amusing movie in which John Barrymore spoofs himself, playing an alcoholic¬†former movie star. I like Barrymore – he was a superb if a bit overtly dramatic actor, but his last years were truly a study in a wasted life. Then Dorothy was in¬†Murder Over New York, a mid tier Charlie Chan movie.

dorothydearing2Dorothy captured some roles in higher up movies with¬†Hudson’s Bay, an epic movie about early Canada (with Paul Muni, truly a gem among actors!),¬†Tall, Dark and Handsome, a well made comedy/crime film with Cesar Romero and Virginia Gilmore (too bad about her – she was a capable, good actress, but was overshadowed by her husband, Yul Brynner). Dorothy appeared in another Alice Faye movie,¬†That Night in Rio¬†– same old same old, shallow overall, but fun, elegant and pleasing. She continued with more musicals –¬†The Great American Broadcast, another same old same old¬†Alice Faye vehicle,¬†Moon Over Miami, a surprisingly charming Betty Grable musical (I was more interested¬†in Carole Landis, who plays Betty’s sister – she was truly a stunner!).

Dorothy last string of movies were crimes or dramas. She appeared in the lesser movie,¬†We Go Fast, a completely forgotten Lynn Bari movie where she plays a waitress who falls for the wrong guy, and in a better one:¬†I Wake Up Screaming, a top-tier film noir, with a solid story (watch it to see it!) and a cast of not very talented actors who actually give above-average-performances (for them at least). Neither Betty Grable nor Victor Mature knew how to act, but here it works. Dorothy’s last movie was¬†Thunder Birds: Soldiers of the Air, another William Wellman aviation movie, a must see for fans of the genre and a good-enough movie for the rest of us.

PRIVATE LIFE

dorothydearing4

In 1934, not long after she started her movie career, Dorothy gave a beauty hint for the readers:

Ten minutes daily for a period of a month in training the muscles of the abdomen will do much to help the not-so-perfect figure Simply contract and relax , the muscles, slowly and systematically, and after a while improvement should be evident.

It was noted that Dorothy was an excellent spokeswoman, one of Hollywood’s most attractive blondes, and that her favorite hot beverage was Bokar coffee, because its vigorous and winey aroma. ¬†Dorothy was well known in Hollywood for her resemblance of both Madeline Carroll and Dorothy Mackaill. She was also part of the “in crowd” at 20th century Fox, as this article can attest:

Each noontime at Twentieth Century-Fox, four young stock actresses‚ÄĒAlice Armand, Dorothy Dearing, Irma Wilsen and Helen Erickson‚ÄĒlunch with ex¬≠ star Mae Marsh and chatter like so many magpies. Having often wondered at such conversational pep, I finally mustered courage to ask Mae, pointblank, what they had talked about. “Well, said she, “Today we discussed (1) Alice Faye‚Äôs new hairdress, (2) the rumored romance of Sonja Henie and Alan Curtis, (3) the new composition stockings, (4) possible use of the same material for undies, (5) winter wardrobes and (6) three other things that are none of your business!‚ÄĚ Guess femmes are femmes‚ÄĒeven if they are actresses.

Dorothy’s only true claim to fame came when she went on the Tailsip publicity tour. A short article about it:

Tailspin party involves more than 5,500 miles of airline travel. In each key city visited the party will deliver prints of “Tailspin,” which stars Alice Faye, Constance Bennett and Nancy Kelly.¬†¬†Some of the¬†personalities to visit Detroit will include Ruth Nichols, famous speed pilot, who has established many of her air speed records right here, and Margo Bain Tanner, world’s holder title for a speed record. Others in the visiting party will include Dorothy Dearing, Joan Valerie, Lillian Porter and Helen Erickson, youthful stock actresses from the Twentieth Century-Fox studios. The fliers and Hollywood starlets will spend Saturday night and Sunday morning in Detroit. They’ll be guests at a buffet supper at 7 p. m. Saturday at the Book-Cadillac Hotel, together with Detroit and Michigan members of the Ninety-nine Club, officers from Pelfridge Field, civic dignitaries and newspaper men and women.

Sometime in the 1930s, Dorothy was married, but I could not find any information about the groom nor indeed how long did it last. What I do know that by 1940, she was divorced and living with her mother, Bessie, in Los Angeles. She also dated comedy writer Curly Harris for a time in 1937.

Dorothy made her last movie in 1942, and saw the writing on the wall. Always an independent, capable woman, she decided to go into business – import/export business, to be exact. By 1944, she was pretty well established in the Los Angeles biz world. Here is an article from 1944:

Dorothy Dearing. an importer, just back” from Mexico City, brought us aevaral packs of American-made cigarettes which she purchased there. One pack of Luckies (where the revenue tax stamp should be) is marked: “Best Wishes from, the Hit Parade and Joan Edwards.” Free cigarettes meant for our troops overseas. She paid 10 cents per pack! Miss Dearing and several friends bought them at the drug store in the Reforma Hotel, Mexico City. They are now in the mails to examination,

dorothydearingDorothy Dearing and former actor Roland Drew began dating in 1944, while he was still serving in the US Army. After a brief engagement, they married on August 12, 1946, in Los Angeles.

Roland was born, as Walter David Goss, on August 4,1900, in New York,  to David Goss and Elizabeth Kennedy. His father was English. Roland, in silent days, played opposite such stars as Dolores del Rio and Gloria Swanson. Later he was prominent as a character actor on the screen and in radio. He gave up acting by the time he married Dorothy. He enlisted as a private in September 1942 during World War II. This was his first marriage.

Their son Damon Dearing was born on April 13, 1947. Dorothy left acting for good by that time, and focused on her family and her import business. Drew became a renown dress designer in California, catering to the posh ladies, and was very famous and successful. IMDB alleges that Dorothy became an alcoholic, and this contributed to her premature death.

Dorothy Dearing Drew died on April 19, 1965, in Beverly Hills, California. Her widower, Roland Drew, died on March 17, 1988 in Santa Monica.

 

Phyllis Adair

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Beautiful and regal Phyllis Adair showed an early promise by appearing in a number of low budget westerns. However, when the time came for her to spring up and manage a step forward, career-wise, like many of her contemporaries, she just didn’t make it.

EARLY LIFE:

Phyllis Louise Wilsnack was born on May 1, 1919, in Chicago, Illinois, to George and Louise Wilsnack.  Her older sister, Priscilla Mary, was born on August 5, 1911 in Chicago.

Her father, a direct descendant of the noble von Wilsnack line (his great grandfather was count von Wilsnack), was born in 1886 in Berlin, Germany and after finishing his education in Europe, in 1908 he emigrated to the US and settled Chicago, Illinois. He worked as a chemical engineer, specializing in making cement. Her mother, Louise Wingertier, was born in Buffalo, New York and came from a prominent Swiss family.

The family lived in Chicago, where Phyllis and Priscilla grew up. The family moved to Easton, Pennsylvania, in the early 1930s. After living in Easton for a few years, they departed for Los Angeles after Phyllis graduated from high school so she can attend college in Los Angeles.

Phyllis enrolled into college in Los Angeles (could not find which one), and there met her first husband. In the meantime, she started to act professionally, appearing in several little theater productions. She was seen by a talent scout, and soon started her movie career.

CAREER

Phyllis appeared in a great deal of low-budget westerns (oh my!). The list is as follows:¬†Wild Horse Valley,¬†Billy the Kid’s Fighting Pals,¬†Land of Hunted Men,¬†Riders of the Dawn¬†and¬†Gunning for Vengeance. As per usual, I’m not¬†going¬†to write anything about these charming movies, I am¬†definitely¬†not a fan of big budget, much less low budget¬†westerns.

Her filmography is peppered with more valiant tries. her first ever movie, made in 1939, was¬†All Women Have Secrets, in what seems like an interesting movie about few young people (students to be precise) who pool their resources to make their life better. Hollywood rarely tackled with such everyday problems, and it’s sure a breeze of fresh air to see movies like this. The cast has some hidden gems that would surface later – Jeanne Cagney, Janet Waldo and Veronica Lake.

phyllis-adair-and-max-terhune-1Phyllis made another movie in 1944,¬†Abroad with Two Yanks, about (guess!) Two US soldiers and their adventures in Australia during WW2. The movie was made as a morale booster and thus hold little merit outside that field. it’s not a bad lot, but it’s a lightweight comedy and that’s about it…At least William Bendix and Helen Walker (in the lead roles) manage to do their job admirably.

God Is My Co-Pilot¬†is perhaps the best known movie of Phyllis’a career, and yet it’s far from a full pledges classic everybody knows today. However, the movie, about Robert Lee Scott, a Georgia native who became a flying Tiger and did¬†miraculous¬†things¬†during¬†WW2, is well made and solid, if anything¬†else. Scott is played by Warner Bros favorite bland and¬†uninteresting¬†every-guy, Dennis Morgan! I know, I may be harsh towards Morgan, but I’ve seen a few of his movies and I truly never understood his appeal. He was neither handsome not a¬†particularly¬†good actor… He’s far from the wooden magnificence of John Boles or John Gavin, but he just doesn’t do it for me. The supporting cast is much better – Dane Clark, Raymond Massey, Andrea King.

In 1945, Phyllis appeared in¬†Kitty, a wonderful historical movie about the rise and rise of a simple London wench, with Paulette Goddard and Ray Milland in the lead roles. Just as I don’t like Morgan, thus I like Milland. He had some limitations as an actor, but he sure managed to leave a mark in most movies he appeared in. Paulette, in a similar vein, was not a great actress, but had screen presence and a feline, alluring vibe. What the film does right is¬†putting¬†these two actors in roles¬†absolutely¬†perfect for them – Milland as a charming cad and Paulette as a¬†feisty¬†gold digger. Add to this a solid script, great costumes and set design, and we have a winner!


To Each His Own
¬†was another great entry into Phyllis’¬†filmography, a very good example of a weepy woman’s picture done right. When you have Paulette Goddard, Olivia de Havilland and Charles Boyer, you can’t really go wrong, now can you? They truly don’t make them like this no more!¬†The Glass Alibi¬†is a so-so thrilled with some good twists in it. Sadly, the cast is lackluster (low tier stars like Douglas Fowler and Maris Wrixon) and the director just can’t make this a¬†truly¬†memorable¬†movie¬†experience. Phyllis’ last movie was¬†Of Human Bondage, the lesser remake of a great book. This is the problem when you try to film movies that already have ultimate adaptations. Paul Henreid takes Leslie Howard’s role – too bad he can’t hold a candle to him (despite a strangely charming melancholy strike, Henreid was a sadly mediocre actor). Eleanor Parker is good in Bette Davis’ role, but let’s be real, nobody can top Davis is that kind of paranoid, nervous roles.

Phyllis returned to the theater even before her movie career ended. Example, from 1948: “Beaux Arts Theater will reopen Dec. 25 with “Holiday Lady,” a new comedy-drama by Luther Yantls, who has also written “Killers,” “Souvenir Sadie” and “Loose Ladles.” The production will be offered by Irving Thorns and Jack Moser. Its plot concerns a young girl of the early 1900’s whose view of life was “far ahead” of the period In which she found herself. Phyllis Adair and Jack Murray will be the principals¬†in a company of 15. ”

By 1949, Phyllis was out of showbiz and raising a family.

PRIVATE LIFE

Phyllis’ private life was barely mentioned by tabloids, so there is so little information… Anyway, let’s squeeze what we have. First, Phyllis was a stand-in for Peggy Cummins during the filming of Forever Amber. However, we do know that Peggy was ultimately sacked and Linda Darnell took over.

Phyllis married her first husband, med student William Fredrick Eschrich, on February 14, 1940, in Los Angeles. Both of them were in college, and lived with her parents who supported them (bad idea!).

dennis-moore-and-phyllis-adairEschrich was born on February 19, 1916, in Los Angeles, to Julius Eschrich and Aurelia Mountain. He started to attended med school in his home town and met Phyllis during his studies. Sadly, the marriage was terminated in about 1943. After the divorce, William graduated from med school and became a successful doctor. He married Marcella Phillips and had two sons, Gary, born on March 9, 1948 and Tyler, born on January 21, 1950. William practiced medicine in California for the rest of his life and died on January 3, 1990, in Los Angeles.

Phyllis married her second husband, Edward David Bronaugh, in Los Angeles on August 27, 1945. Bronaugh was born on July 12, 1918, to Ruby Rheinhart and Eugene Bronaugh, in Kansas, Missouri. He trained as a pilot and became a commercial airline pilot. He served in the Air Forces during WW2, and spent two and a half years overseas. He was married once before to Mary Louise Boswell Рit was a wartime marriage that started on March 12, 1943 and ended that same year.

Phyllis and Edward’s marriage also proved to be very short – they divorced in 1946 or 1947. Bronaugh later moved to Glendale,¬†Arizona and got married again, to a woman named Francoise. They had two children, Kelly and Stephane. He died on August 3, 1987 in Arizona.

Phyllis married her third husband, a Mr. Stevenson, in 1948. Their son, Scot Bruce, was born on July 3, 1949. Long retired from showbiz by then, she devoted her time to her family and lived the rest of her days in California.

Phyllis Stevenson died on February 23, 1990 in Los Angeles, California.

 

Marbeth Wright

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Pretty, well-built and with a fine singing voice, Marbeth Wright was just 14 when she signed her first contract and hope for the best. For whatever reason, her movie career never got oft he ground – however she found luck in other revues of showbiz and achieved a better career in Europe.

EARLY LIFE

Marbeth Wright was born on July 9, 1915, in Crawford, Texas, to James C. Wright and Mabel Anderson, their only child. Her father was a police officer. The family moved to Los Angeles, California sometime after 1920, and Marbeth grew up and attended school there.

Marbeth started performing at the tender age of 11 – on a gathering in her home town, ¬†she¬†sang popular songs, including “Honey Bunch,” “What¬†a¬†Man’ and several others, and won much applause for her skills. She was bitten by the showbiz bug, and there was no other path – she would become an actress. Although only 11 years old, she started working hard to achieve her dreams, and from then on was a regular at the pageant and dancing scenes.

Marbeth won Cecil De DeMille’s personality Contest, actually a lure to find new talent they could exploit in movies. Marbeth was allegedly Miss Los Angeles in 1928, which would make her only 13 years old when she won the title. Was that even legal? Yet, all the documents attest that she was born in 1915. Weird. I would put her at least in 1913, if not 1912. After winning this title, the doors to Hollywood were wide open for the beautiful girl, and she signed a studio contract in 1929 and started her career the same year.

CAREER

After three silent films that I won’t cover here (The Great Gabbo, Happy Days¬†and The Bridge), Marbeth appeared in¬†Just Imagine, one of the most bizarre movies to get out of Hollywood. The forced and generally unfunny comedian, El Brendel, plays a normal guy (huh, touch luck with calling his humor normal) who is¬†struck by lightning in 1930, and winds up in 1980 New York. And you imagine how people in 1930 imagined 1980! They sure didn’t expect the shoulder pads and the hair spray! Needless to say, it’s campy, it’s ridiculous and it’s so bad it’s good! As one reviewer wrote, “There are relays of airplane roads above the city, babies are dropped from coin fed machines, and outfits are made reversible for day and evening wear.” Don’t tell me you don’t want to see this!

marbeth-wright-01Marbeth next appeared in¬†The Trial of Vivienne Ware, a well made and sturdy drama with Joan Bennett as the innocent female lead, pushed into a nasty court trial. She was again a dancer in¬†It’s Great to Be Alive, another bizarre one. The plot already goes south in the first sentence: An aviator who crash landed on an island in the South Pacific returns home to find that he is the last fertile man left on Earth after an epidemic of masculitus. A reviewer wrote about it on IMDB:¬†“It’s Great to Be Alive” is one of the weirdest movies I’ve ever seen. It’s a science-fiction comedy, similar in spirit to “Just Imagine” (1930), although not quite as musicalised. This is a dumb movie, but it’s so cheerful in its mindlessness that you’ll have a good time watching it …. What more do I need to say? Hollywood sure made some very strange movies back in the day.

Marbeth took a hiatus from movies – I have no idea what exactly was she doing, I always suspect, when an actresses disappears, that she¬†got married and then divorced, but perhaps this is not the case with her. When she returned in 1935, she appeared in¬†The Lottery Lover, a conventional and only average movie about the misadventures of military cadets in Paris. Like most movies set in Paris in the 1930s, it features the Folies Bergere prominently. Lavish costumes and¬†great¬†sets can’t manage to¬†save a dull script and insipid story.

Guess what? Marbeth then appeared in a movie aptly titled¬†Folies Berg√®re de Paris. And guess what again? The movie is actually not a bad one. Headed by the effortlessly charming Maurice Chevalier (the king of precode, oh la la), it’s a story about an entertainer impersonates a banker who looks just like him, causing confusion for the bankers wife and his girlfriend. It has all the right¬†ingredients¬†– the witty banter, good music and¬†decent actors. She continued her dancing output in¬†George White’s 1935 Scandals, a typical George White movie, full of pretty girls dancing and with little to no plot.

Marbeth appeared in another idiotic musical, and that movie is truly and well forgotten, Redheads on Parade.¬†Next, she was not a dancer but rather a secretary in The Girl Friend,¬†only a modesty funny comedy with¬†Ann Sothern, Jack Haley and Roger Pryor. Nothing to write home about! She finished her movie career with¬†Music Is Magic¬†–¬†this is officially an Alice Faye movie, the true star is¬†¬†Bebe Daniels, a 34-year-old star who refuses to acknowledge that her prime is past that she must choose roles in accordance to her advanced age! I cannot stress enough how this movie shows, unintentionally, how Hollywood treats women. While I’m the first to say that casting people who are too old for some roles is not a perfect solution, the lack of¬†substantial¬†roles for women above 35 years of age is alarming. And Daniels, still beautiful and with tons of charisma, is a better actress than the younger Faye and truly steals the show.

Marbeth moved to other forms of showbiz, and never made another movie.

PRIVATE LIFE

Marbeth was 5’5” tall, and tried to get into the papers like any dutiful starlet tries, but she never caused a scandal or sensation. It was her baking skills that got her into the papers in 1929 – she baked a very nice bread man for a culinary fair.

Marbeth also gave a handy beauty hint to readers:

An alluring note is added to light summer gowns by the use of fresh flowers in the hair. A cluster of mess rosebuds, gardenias, or a pink camellia is especially attractive.

Marbeth’s life gets interesting in about 1936, when she was allegedly summoned to Maurice Chevalier to appear with him in a revue show in Paris. The story goes like this (taken from a contemporary newspaper):

Marbeth Wright has signed a contract to go to Paris and appear at the Casino there and also play in a picture with Maurice Chevalier. I’m not saying there’s a romance, but I hear Maurice selected this young lady, who played Just a bit in “Folles Bergere,” as the object of his special attention when they were making the picture and chose her also for the new Job.

marbeth-wright-3I was highly suspicions of this story. Chevalier, one of the most famous stars in the world, asking for a complete unknown for a co-star, and he’s not even a friend or a lover? While possible, I doubted this very much. However, after some digging around, I found out something that could be reason – it seems that Marbeth was involved, romantically of course, with Max Rippo, who was at the time Chavelier’s secretary. Now, this makes much more sense – Rippo recommended his lover to Chevalier, he obviously liked what he saw and signed her. This way I guess Rippo and Marbeth could continue their liaison in Paris.

Marbeth sailed for Paris in 1936, and stayed there for the next three years, ¬†singing in the Monte Cristo casino. If we only knew what other stories of Paris Marbeth could have told us…

Marbeth only returned to US in mid 1939, when it became absolutely clear that bad times were looming over Europe – she returned to Los Angeles, where her parents lived, but she did not sign a contract with any studio nor did any nightclub work. One has to wonder what happened to Marbeth? Why the termination of her career? Could there be a revival?

Unfortunately, there was to be no revival. Marbeth Wright died from a dental infection on September 17, 1939, 16 days after was declared in Europe . She was just 24 years old, and we can say that it was a tragedy she died so young.

Philippa Hilber

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Beautiful girl who danced at every show, who acted in every production in her birth town, who dreamed of becoming an actress fro as long as she can remember. Sounds familiar? There were thousands of such girls, and Philippa Hilber was just one of them. However, unlike most, she actually got somewhere Рshe signed a contract with a major studio and acted in bits and pieces. The problem was that she never got beyond that stage. In the end, she married and left the screen.

EARLY LIFE

Phillippa A. Hilber was born on January 22, 1918, in Los Angeles, California, to Phillip Melbourne Hilber and Vera Thornton. Her father was a professional photographer, born in Michigan.

Her parents separated when she was a toddler, and she went on to live with her maternal grandparents, Alvin and Addie Thornton. In 1920, Vera and Philippa lived with Alvin and Addie and Vera’s younger brother, Richard Scott. Alvin and Addie were both Mississippi natives that married in the late 1880s, had six¬†children, and came to California in the early 1910s. After the divorce, Vera never remarried. Phillip¬†remarried to Hazel Hilber¬†and had a son, Charles, born in 1930.

Philippa grew up in San Bernardino, and integrated herself with the entertainment world while very young Рshe appeared in school plays aged only 11, and was about 14 years old when she danced ballet in various summer concerts. Here is an excerpt of a newspaper article, dating from July 1931, about a concert at the Biltmore Bowl:

Suited particularly to this out-of-doors theater, and offering an atmospheric bit which will, in all probability, long be remembered, is the ballet “Clouds,” danced to the music of Debussy. Of the sixty dancers included in the personnel of this ballet, only six will appear as individual figures. The others are completely covered beneath more than 1000 yards of veiling, shading in color from foggy grays to brilliant orange: Representing the. clouds at sunset, the dancers drift in their rhythmic patterns about the stage, finally disappearing, leaving but one tragic little cloud who has strayed away from the rest, but who scurries away when she discovers she has been left alone. Hiding behind the clouds, but emerging in their full brilliance when the last bit of chiffon has drifted away, are five stars and, as a final climax, the moon. Featured in this ballet are Evelyn Wenger, Edith Jane. Elise Relman. Helen Doty, Phillipa Hilber and Dorothy Wagner

Philippa continued to dance at various revenues, and hope for movie stardom. And that came soon enough – she signed a movie contract in November 1934, when she was just 16 years old, and started her movie career. On the side, we have to note that she waited to finish high school in 1936, when she was already a working actress.

CAREER

Philippa started as a dancer, and as such appeared in uncredited roles of chorus girls. Her first appearance was in¬†Arizona to Broadway, a sadly forgotten but not-all-that-bad comedy about con men trying to out-con each other. The underrated and tragic James Dunn plays the male lead, and my favorite Joan Bennett is the female lead. What’s not to like? Philippa then appeared in¬†Roman Scandals, the seminal Eddie Cantor comedy.

philippahilber1This was followed by a show girl role in¬†Moulin Rouge, a charming¬†but shallow pre-code comedy with Constance¬†Bennett¬†playing dual roles and Franchot Tone as the husband. As you can imagine when there are dual roles involved, it’s about mistaken identities and so on. Predictable, but fun non the less. Then came¬†Stand Up and Cheer!, which is less of a movie and more of an excuse to put one¬†variety act after another. Avoid if you don’t like your movies without a plausible plot.

Philippa was a rumba specialist dancer in Redheads on Parade, a sadly totally forgotten Dixie Lee musical, with our favorite wooden actor, John Boles. She danced ballet in one of the few Spanish movies Hollywood made, Piernas de seda.

King of Burlesque, Philippa’s next feature,¬†was an early Alice Faye movie with a plot that would become a genre staple in the 1940s –¬†The low-class man aspiring to high society and married above himself, shunning his low-class sweetheart, who then¬†goes abroad to sing and becomes a¬†big success on the stage there. Faye actually played the shunned lady twice more, but this was the first time. The husband/cad is Warren Baxter, and socialite wife is Mona Barrie – decent cast, good dancing and singing acts, and what more do you need?

philippa-hilber-2Philippa appeared in two Loretta Young movies –¬†Wife, Doctor and Nurse¬†and¬†Second Honeymoon. The former is actually an interesting take on the typical love triangle, with Loretta playing the wife – the latter is a lackluster Loretta/Tyrone Power pairing, devoid of any energy and wit (a must for a screwball comedy, which it feigns to be). She also appeared in¬†Girls’ Dormitory, a flat movie that aimed to shock¬†but of course is more boring than anything, ¬†and¬†You Can’t Have Everything, a breezy, charming Alice Faye/Don Ameche movie (where you need to forget the plot and just enjoy the music!)

Philippa ended her career with two total misses –¬†Love and Hisses, a dismal movie at best, about ¬†a rado feud between columnist Walter Winchell and band leader Ben Bernie(since neither knows how to act, you¬†can¬†imagine how good the movie is), and¬†Kentucky Moonshine, a lesser movie of the Ritz brothers (and they were the poor man’s Marx brothers).

Philippa left movies to raise her children after this.

PRIVATE LIFE

In 1934, Philippa gave a Beauty hint for her fans:

FOR a facial that leaves the skin smooth and soft, mix equal parts of sweet almond oil and honey, cover the face and allow to remain on half an hour. Remove with cold cream or lukewarm, damp towels. through several waters. Do not wring them out, but hang up dripping. Dry celery leaves and parsley, then pulverize. Keep in salt shakers. They are worth the trouble to prepare and make a tasty garnish.

philippa_hilber_make_upPhilippa dated Doodles Weaver for a few months in 1935.¬†She¬†married Bill Goodwin on March 11, 1936, in Yuma, Arizona. They just hoped into Goodwin’s car one day and of they went! William Nettles Goodwin was born on July 28, 1910, in San Francisco, California, to .¬†Goodwin attended the University of California.¬†He acted in stage productions on the West Coast before he began working in radio in 1930. After working on a station in¬†Portland, Oregon, he worked¬†at stations in Sacramento¬†and Los Angeles. he would act in Hollywood movies, and work with George Burns and Gracie Allen.

Philippa promised that marriage would not interfere one bit with her career. Typical sentence, spoken by dozens of starlets Рwith typical results. Yes Рwithin three years, Phillipa was pregnant and leaving movies for good.

philippafamilyThe couple had four children – Jill (born on December 20, 1939), William Richard (born on January 8, 1942), Lynn (born on October 18, 1943), and Sally (born on June 29, 1945). In 1945, she was named Glamour Mother of the Year by infantry men fighting in Europe. In 1951, there was thing short item in the papers about Philippa:¬†People are always asking Philippa Goodwin, wife of Bill Goodwin, how she finds time to raise four children. “It’s the same as raising one,”, explains Philippa. “When Jill, our firstborn, arrived, she took all my time. What can three more do?”

Philippa and Bill enjoyed a happy and fulfilling marriage, and even had their own radio program. Unfortunately, Bill died from a sudden heart attack on 1958. In the 1970s, Philippa worked as a successful real estate agent, based in Los Angeles.

Philippa never remarried, retired in the 1980s and moved to Palm Desert to enjoy her golden years.

Philippa Hilber Goodwin died on April 1996 in Palm Desert, California.

Mildred Stone

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Beautiful and a wonderful vocalist, Mildred Stone had all the pluses to make it in Hollywood. And just when she started her road to riches, she got married and gave it up. As we know from previous posts, such was the story of many women in 1930s Hollywood.

EARLY LIFE

Mildred I. Stone was born on January 13, 1914, in Hanford, California to Cedric A Stone and Harriet Berachig Wilson. Her younger sister Dorothy was born in 1920. Both of the girls grew up in Lucene, Kings County, where their father had a farm.

Sadly, her father died on November 29, 1925, aged only 35. Harriet took the girls to Hanford, where both of them attended Hanford High School.

While there, Mildred was tutored by elocution and voice expert Mary Hobson Crowe, who was once a star of the stage. This gave her . She played leads in Mikado, the Indian Operetta, Lela Walla and other productions. She also studied for a bit with a voice coach in San Francisco.  She had to return to Hanford to earn money to continue her education РHanford chamber of Commerce staged a recital to help her. Then, she had her first solo concert in October 1933 Рshe was accompanied by her mother on the piano.She also did some work for Hanford Players to supplement her income.

After bagging some money, she returned to San Francisco studied with the prior mentioned voice coach for some more time, and then moved to Los Angeles to further her career. There she won a contest and nabbed a role in a at a Clark and McCollough comedy. Not long after she got a contract with KMTR radio, and did gigs at famous nightclubs:

In mid 1934, she was let go from her KMTR contract and signed with Jimmy Grier at the Biltmore bowl, where she sang 7 nights a week. On the side, she tried for a movie career. Her break came as a total lark – she was noticed in a nightclub by a talent scout, who arranged for her screen test. She passed with flying colors.

Mildred¬†signed her first motion-picture contract, a seven-year agreement with Paramount Productions under which she was to. receive $50 a week to start with, her salary ascending on a sliding scale to $450 a week. And her movie career started…

CAREER

Mildred made only two movies after she signed her contract with Paramount. And both were in uncredited roles. So much about becoming a film star…

mildredsantaellaHer first movie was the Bing Crosby vehicle,¬†Mississippi. Most of his early to mid 1930s movies fall into the same basket – funny, charming, paper-thin plot wise musicals. Of course, they are of varying¬†quality, but neither veers too much of the charted track. Mississippi falls somewhere in the¬†middle of the road, being neither the best nor the worst of the Crosby offerings. The flimsy plot (taken from a reviewer on imdb): Bing is cast as a northerner set to marry a southern woman who lives in one of those great plantations, and who has a prettier younger sister. He is challenged by an evil ex-suitor, but won’t duel with him. So Bing is cast out in disgrace to sing on Fields’ riverboat. Bing has to somehow survive Fields’ influence, get back on shore and re-claim his marital “prize”. But she is married to the “bad guy”. What does Bing do? What is his relationship with the cute younger sister?

You get the drift. The best thing about this movie is the pairing of Bing Crosby and W.C. Fields – the only time they worked together. Shame, as they were on the top in their¬†prospective¬†fields:¬†Bing a top crooner and Fields a top comedian. The movie’s one major downfall is its mild but still very much apparent racism.¬†Hollywood¬†of the 1930s was very ambivalent about racism¬†– as one reviewer correctly wrote: “For every serious film that grasped at racial tragedy in this country (the US) (IMITATION OF LIFE with Louise Beavers and Freddy Washington, or IN THIS OUR LIFE with Bette Davis) there were hundreds which were made that insulted millions of African-Americans for laughs.”

mildresstone2Mildred’s¬†second¬†movie was 13 Hours by Air, a brisk, well made thriller. It offers little more than that, but let’s me real, nobody expects it to be a top feature. he plot is a bit convoluted, with planes, jewel robbers, high society ladies, corrupt counts and so on, but the cast is pretty good – Fred MacMurray and Joan Bennett in the leads, and John Howard , Ruth Donnelly, Alan Baxter and Zasu Pitts in the supports. Mildred plays a (what else) stewardess. Also worth watching out is a small role by the¬†forgotten¬†silent movie queen, Marie¬†Prevost.

Mildred gave up acting to starts a family after this, and her Paramount contract was broken. ¬†She¬†returned to¬†movie making¬†in 1947, with her last feature,¬†The Shocking Miss Pilgrim, a truly¬†enjoyable¬†fare. Without insulting the sensibilities of the all mighty production code,¬†it manages to be a commentary¬†on the early women’s right movement in the late 19th Century. It’s also a delightful love story and ultimately musical with some irresistible music by Ira Gershwin. Yep, win-win situation on all accounts.¬†Special¬†plus is seeing Betty Grable and Dick¬†Haymes paired on the screen.

And that was it from Mildred.

PRIVATE LIFE

Mildred was a petite woman, standing at just¬†5′¬†2″, but was of shapely build. She was nicknamed Midge by family and friends. She gave her beauty hint to the public in 1934:

If your blonde hair looks dull, try using a tablespoon full of vinegar in the lukewarm rinse water after a shampoo.

Short, sweet and very much true!

mildredstone3Now for her love life. While working at the KMTR radio, Mildred met Salvatore Santaella, the charming, suave musical director. Santaella was born on September 12, 1896, in Mexico City, Mexico, of Italian extraction, to Pasquale and Anna Maria Santaella. He immigrated to the States with his parents in 1908. They settled in Detroit, where he finished high school. A gifted pianist, he became a professional musician. In 1920, he married his first wife, Lillian Hansen. The couple moved to New York in 1921 and renewed their vows in 1922. Their daughter Dorothy G. was born not long after, in Oregon.

Santaella moved to Los Angeles at some time in the mid 1920s, and started to work in the radio and movie industries. He and Lillie divorced at some point. Santaella played piano solos for the George Arliss movie, The Man Who Played God, and became the KMTR musical director. He also wrote songs on the side, and even collaborated with Jan Rubini, famous composed who was the husband of another starlet I profiled on this blog, Terry Walker.

Mildred and Salvadore dated from at least mid 1934. He had already let her out of the KMTR contract so she can sign with Jimmy Grier and appear in movies. He obviously had misgivings about letting her go Рnot just professional ones mind you!

the_bee_thu__jan_10__1935_They married on  September 14, 1935, in Los Angeles. Their daughter, Linda, was born on October 3, 1935, in Los Angeles (now, look at the dates РLinda was born just 20 days after they married. Pretty steamy stuff for 1935. I wonder why they married so late? Divorces, or?).

Mildred slowly gave up her budding career to become a housewife. By 1939, she was not working any more, and the family lived in¬†6506 Lindenhurst Avenue. She was close to her mother’s family, the Wilsons, and sometimes popped up in the local Californian newspapers in the society pages.

Saltavore Santaella died on January 11, 1964. I have no idea what happened to Mildred afterwards – the IMDB claims she died in 1989, but I could not a death certificate.

As always, I hope she had a good life.

Maxine Reiner

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Maxine Reiner was a gorgeous model who came to Hollywood with the sole intention of making it as an actress. Her looks warranted her a contract, but we all know that’s only a starting point for something more substantial. After some uncredited bits, she was given a prominent role in a movie series and¬†it was either make or break – sadly, she did not make the grade and her career ended not long after.

EARLY LIFE

Maxine Frances Reiner was born on March 16, 1916, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, to Bernard Reiner and Ida Eisenberg. Her younger sister Naomi was born in 1923. Maxine grew up in Philadelphia and attended schools there.

During her high school years, to make some money, Maxine worked as a model in Philadelphia. She was best known for the cigarette ads (despite the fact that she never smoked). Upon graduation, her father gifted her with a train ticket to Los Angeles. Piqued by the light of Hollywood, she left for the West coast with her mother and sister. She did the usual studio rounds, but no luck. Then, one day, an agent was reviewing a screen test trying to decide will he sign an actress of not. Maxine was in the same screen test Рthe agent finally decided to sign Maxine and not the girl he was originally . She got a contract with Universal Studios and started her career.

CAREER

Maxine was uncredited in her first feature,¬†Wanderer of the Wasteland, a forgotten movie based on a Zane Grey novel. The cast is good enough for sure (Dean Jagger and Gail Patrick in the leads), but MaxineReiner5there is nothing further I can say about the movie. She had another uncredited role in Professional Soldier, a fun and delightful romp, a perfect¬†Sunday¬†afternoon¬†movie. The plot is simple enough – Former real-life mercenary Victor McLaglen plays a professional soldier who is hired to kidnap the Russian king, Peter II, but he gets much more than he bargained for in Freddie Bartholomew (who play Peter). it’s not about the plot for sure – it’s about the great interplay between McLagen and Bartholomew, the fast and elegant action scenes, and witty dialogue. Rita Hayworth and Maxine play gypsy dancers.

She continued her uncredited adventure with It Had to Happen, one of the less known George Raft movies. He plays an Italian immigrant who makes it big in America. Same old, same old story. Rosalind Russell plays the female lead. Nothing to yawn about.

Maxine struck¬†cinematic¬†gold that¬†catapulted¬†her out of the uncredited pool with Charlie Chan at the Circus. Was it the best way to become a star? Heck no, but it was a god start. What can I say¬†about¬†Charlie Chan movies? ¬†Like most movie serials, they were made on a shoestring budget and with mediocre writing, and this particular entry is a mid tier one. Some love it, some find it uninteresting, but it’s enjoyable any way you look at it. Charlie Chan is, as the title suggests, in the circus and gets embroiled in the complex¬†behind¬†the scenes¬†hierarchy. Maxine plays a trapeze artist. What was supposed to be her ticket to stardom only buried her further. Maxine did no make the grade, and her roles suffered.

MaxineReiner3She had a smaller role in¬†Sins of Man, a long-winded, heavy drama with Don Ameche playing dual roles of two brothers. It’s more or less completely forgotten today.

Maxine had a slightly more prominent role in The Girl on the Front Page, a Gloria Stuart vehicle where she plays a rich girl who starts to work at her dad’s paper incognito and managed to bust a counterfeit ring. While I love a heroine who is proactive and does things, the rich girl¬†going¬†to work narrative is a bit boring, I have to admit. Yet Gloria is such a¬†lovely presence, you can forgive some plot holes.

Maxine’s last movie was Flying Hostess, a movie about the lives and loves of airline stewardesses (they were called flying hostesses back in the 1930s). It’s a pretty minor, forgotten movie. Aware that her career was going nowhere, Maxine gave up her contract to become a wife and later, mother.

PRIVATE LIFE

Maxine was a budding novelist, and wrote the novel Stranger in Manhattan in 1935. It deals with the sophisticated life in New York. I have no idea if it was ever published, but it’s never bad to write, so kudos to Maxine.

MaxineReiner4Maxine married Joseph “Joe” I. Myerson on July 11, 1935, in an orthodox ceremony in Los Angeles. The studio gave her two weeks to go on a honeymoon. Joe was born on December 6, 1905, to Victor Myerson and Ida Hoffman, the fifth of six children. He grew up in California but moved to Yuma, Arizona in the late 1920s. He returned to Los Angeles in the mid 1930s and worked as a wholesale clothing merchant.

The marriage¬†ended in a separation on October 18. They finally hit the divorce courts in February 1936, where she asked for separate maintenance and he claimed that it’s stupid to pay her alimony since she earned more than him. Finally, she was awarded¬†$185 a month alimony.

Myerson remarried to Jean Morantz on June 20, 1937. He died on December 1986, in Pima, Arizona.

Maxine married Harry Eliot Sokolov on April 29, 1937. The couple waited for two months to reveal their marriage to the press. Harry was born on December 23, 1899 in Baltimore, Maryland to Jacob Sokolov and Anita Azrael, second of seven children. He graduated from Central High School in Washington DC. In 1921, while studying law, he helped organize an eight piece orchestra that was to stage a George Washington musical. In 1925, he and his brother opened a Realty Corporation in Brooklyn. He became a practicing attorney and moved to Los Angeles after 1930. He and Maxine lived in Beverly Hills.

Maxine2Now, something more about her husband. In 1939, he, along with several other luminaries, founded the Producers Corporation of America.  Harry Sokolov was a very active and energetic man who served as an attorney to several stars (Patsy Ruth Miller comes to mind), was the CEO to Harry Sokolov and Sons, a construction company, and later became an executive producer at 20th Century Fox and close associate of Richard Zanuck. He also was a member of the advisory board of the California State Park Foundation and a member of the California Superior Court Arbitrators.

On January 22, 1943, the Sokolov’s¬†only child, son Thomas Reiner Sokolov, was born. Maxine’s¬†sister Naomi lived with them until her own marriage the same year. Maxine was active in the local social life and dedicated a lot of her time to charitable causes.

The couple divorced at some point before 1956. Sokolov died in 1977.

Maxine married Frank Maury Grossman on August 5, 1956. He was born in January 21, 1915 in Canada, to Harry Gorssman and Florence Claman. They divorced afterwards. Grossman died on June 16, 1988.

Maxine Frances Reiner died on June 19, 2003, in Los Angeles, California.

Dorothy Day AKA Vicki Lester

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Yank Girls continued! Dorothy Day/Vicki Lester had a more substantial career than most starlets of the time. She played both leads and supports in a variety of B movies. She was most certainly beautiful and wasn’t a talent less hack. So, again I ask, what went wrong? The more I think about it, the more I understand it’s not a question of what went wrong, but what went right with the ones that actually made it. Hollywood is such a fickle, unstable town, and there is no given formula of success.

EARLY LIFE

Dorothy Gertrude Day was born on April 17, 1915, in Manhattan, New York City, to Alfred Day and Gertrude Van Der Raalte. Her great great aunt was the great actress Charlotte Cushman.

Dorothy attended grade and Julian Richman High School in the borough. After graduation, she started doing modeling work, and pretty soon was one of the 12 most photographer models in Gotham. For instance, if you picked up just one issue of a magazine in 1936, she was bound to be in at least 3 commercials, and her record was 10!

Like many New York models, Dorothy was signed by Walter Wanger for Vouges of 1938, and this catapulted her to Hollywood.

CAREER

Dorothy appeared in movies as Dorothy Day and Vicki Lester. She came to Hollywood in 1937, a seasoned model, to appear in Vogues of 1938. The name alone reveals much about th emovie – it’s all about the fashions, the pretty colors and beautiful girls. Story? Characters? Zero sum! While they actually have decent actors at work here (Warner Baxter, Joan Bennett), it’s a paper thin affair.

VickiLester1Dorothy’s name was changed to Vicki Lester, and she would remain Lester until 1943. She made her first appearance in Warner Bros’s¬†The Patient in Room 18, a typical, run of the mill comedy-detective-potboiler. Warners churned out hundreds of movies just like this on a yearly basis – what to say? Chances they are any good are slim pickings at best, but often the movies were mediocre and¬†decent enough. At least we have the charming Ann Sheridan in the female lead here.¬†Maid’s Night Out¬†continued in the same vein, a silly and charming little romance movie with future superstar Joan Fontaine in the lead. The story is same old, same old – a rich guy¬†pretends¬†to be poor to win a bet, and fall in love. Moving on! Fools for Scandal¬†is a Carole Lombard¬†vehicle¬†with a uninspired story – American actress (Carole¬†Lombard) visiting Paris meets a penniless Frenchman (Fernand Gravet). He becomes smitten with her and pursues her for the rest of the movie. This doesn’t sit well with her dull American beau (Ralph Bellamy). Again, what to say? Carole sure was a charismatic,¬†charming¬†actress, Gravet is a Gallic Don Juan and Ralph Bellamy plays the scorned,¬†boring lover to perfection. Cute, nice and nothing more than that.

This Marriage Business¬†is another B romantic comedy, starring Victor Moore as a small town justice, none of whose weddings have ended in divorce. Mix it up with a¬†mischievous¬†reporter¬†and Vicki in the leading female role, and you know the drill. Like most of the films mentioned beforehand, it’s charming and breezy, but no high art. Go Chase Yourself¬†squarely fits into the silly but nice crime movie category. Look out for an early role for Lucille Ball!¬†Having Wonderful Time¬†was originally a Broadway play about a Catskill Mountains resort and the¬†assortment¬†of¬†Jewish¬†people who visit it. It was a biting satire¬†on the¬†types and stereotypes of the New York’s Jewish population, written by Arthur Kober (to me, better known as the husband of Lillian Hellman).¬†Hollywood, in its¬†typical¬†fashion, took a nicely done show, watered it down (the characters are not Jewish¬†anymore!) and gave us only a¬†mildly¬†interesting final product. The roster of talent here is¬†impressive – Ginger Rogers, Douglas Fairbanks, Jr., Lee Bowman, Eve Arden, Jack Carson, Lucille Ball and Michael (Red) Skelton, but all are underused.¬†Sky Giant¬†is an insipid, lukewarm aviation drama whose main claim to fame is Richard Dix’s profile. Go figure!

Vicki was finally cast in at least marginally better movies with¬†The Mad Miss Manton, another piece of fluff, but well made and acted fluff. When you pair Barbara Stanwyck and Henry Fonda, you are bound to have at least a semi decent movie, and this has a script to match. This was Dorothy/Vicki’s last movie for a brief time, and she returned in 1940, with¬†The Great Plane Robbery, a forgotten movie about a (gasp!) plane robbery.¬†You’re Out of Luck¬†is another in the series of films that paired Frankie Darro and Montan Moreland as best friends fighting crime. we have already mentioned it in this blog, as Kay Sutton plays the femme fatale. Decent but nothing special.¬†Tall, Dark and Handsome¬†is a parody of early 1930s movies, with Cesar Romero in the lead and a pretty good supporting cast – Sheldon Leonard, Virginai Gilmore, Milton Berle, Charlotte Greenwood. It’s quite funny at times and ultimately, a satisfying watch for this genre.¬†Tom Dick and Harry¬†proved to be the best known movie on Vicki’s filmography. This is a screwball comedy done right – simple but effective story, witty dialogue, great actors! While I understand that a number of people will never like movies like these, it is hard to deny that there are qualities (I lack a better word for that) about these movies that are¬†impossible¬†to¬†reconstruct¬†today. Classic! And Vicki has a pretty good role in this one, as one of the girls. Next came The Miracle Kid, a so-so boxing drama with Tom Neal in the lead.

VickIlester3And thus Dorothy came to the dreaded moment of an actresses life – the moment she starts to appear in low budget westerns. The movie in question was¬†The Lone Rider and the Bandit. No comment. Her next one,¬†Sleepytime Gal, is a Judy Canova comedy, movies that are sure to polarize the public. You either love or hate it.¬†You’re Telling Me¬†is another forgotten comedy. Her last movie under the moniker of Vicki Lester was¬†I Live on Danger, actually a pretty decent crime movie with a sterling B class cast – Chester Morris, Dick Purcell and Jean Parker. Morris is a likable actor, and Parker could have catapulted to A class easily if she only had the right breaks.

After this, Dorothy reverted to her old name, moved back to the East Coast, and did a wartime propaganda short movie, Women at War. She then took time off to get involved in the war effort, and returned to movies in 1945, with Diamond Horseshoe. Now, this is a kind of musical I like better than some MGM extravaganzas. While it’s lush and lavish like a musical should be, it actually has a pretty good story, and the stars are simply magnetic! Who can not like Betty Grable? She such a vivacious, lively presence! Same goes for Dick Haymes. And here comes the last one…¬†Kiss Them for Me. Now, this is one weird movie. The plot is actually above average, and the character¬†Grant plays, if you get over the posh Mid Atlantic accent, is well written. However, there are some parts of the movie that just baffle me. Why did they have make them? Plus, Suzy Parker, for all her beauty, is a terrible actress. So sad…

That was it from both Dorothy Day and Vicki Lester.

PRIVATE LIFE

How did Dorothy get her moniker? Well, after making Vogues of 1938, she returned back to New York City for a brief visit, and when she came back, she learned from the studio brass she was renamed, without consulting her, to Vicki Lester, the heroine of A Star is Born, played by Janet Gaynor.

Vickilester4Dorothy played the piano, danced and sang. She was a clothes horse, and her ideal was “heaven of clothes”. She hated throwing away old shoes. Her favorite foods were caviar, steak, truffles and creppes suzettes (she sure had expensive taste!). Her favorite color was blue, and her favorite flower was the gardenia. She liked to watch football and ice hockey. She mostly read epics (Gone with the Wind, Anthony Adverse, Good Earth). She was superstitious, collected handkerchiefs and carried her lucky matrix ring with her at all times. For keeping her figure trim, she swam and ice skated.

There is a article that claims that Dorothy was married in the mid 1930s, and had a son from that marriage, who was born in about 1935. I could not find any such document, but this is possible, as her life in New York is obscure at best.

When she landed in Hollywood in 1937, she was a constant duet with Willard Parker, handsome B actor who would end up marrying Virginia Field in 1951 (I love Virginia!). By the end of the year, she was hooked up with another handsome B actor, Jon Hall. However, there were persistent rumors she would wed Parker, and they even had good odds in the Hollywood marriage betting pool (oh yes, they even had that back in the 1930s. Crazy decade!). She also managed to squeeze Milton Berle in between. However, by early 1938, she was seen with neither Hal or Parker, but with a new swain, Paul Draper.

In 1938, it was reported that Dorothy and Allan Lane, western star, were not an item but quite the opposite – they absolutely disliked each other off camera. The most ironic part of this story is the fact that Dorothy and Allan knew each other from way back, when she was just starting as a model in New York City and he owned a modeling agency.

By March 1938, Dorothy was steady dating Dick Purcell. The relationship turned serious pretty soon, and they were to be wed in July 1938. We gifted her with a sapphire engagement ring. They set the wedding to October. In July, he was on location for filming Valley of the Giants, and they wrote passionate love letters to each other daily. And upon his return, Dick took rumba lessons to please Dorothy. They planed to fly all over the States for their honeymoon. Ah, love! At the same time,  Dorothy fell into a feud with Frances Mercer over the title of Best Dressed Woman in Hollywood.

VickIlester5The couple had a spat in September, got over it, and when Dorothy landed in hospital in October 1938, Dick was with her every single day. Then, all of a sudden, the papers started mentioning that the man Dorothy really loved was not Dick, but rather some Billy Reed? And truly, by November 1938, they were kaput! After that, in typical “can’t live with you, can’t live without you” fashion, they were on and of for a few additional months. Purcell dated Jane Wyman, then tried to hush it up and claimed that Dorothy was his one and only and that he will wed her… typical hammy behavior. By the time Dorothy got really sick in October 1939, they were over. Her mother came from the East to take care of her. Now, this is my theory of what happened – During her convalescence, she met a Dr. Sterling Bowen, who became her fiancee by the end of the year. That barely lasted until early 1940 – she took up with John Rose, a Disney executive, afterwards. She then dated Dick Behans and Alex D’Arcy. She got together again with Dr. Sterling Brown by June 1940. Sometime in the 1940s, Dorothy also had a few dates with Mickey Rooney.

By 1939, Dorothy was dating Bennett Cerf, the wealthy publisher/bon vivant, former husband of Sylvia Sidney. This too did not last, and by mid 1940, she was seen with director Al Hall. Then came Bob Oliver. Later that year, she started to date Eddie Cherkose, famed songwriter. What started as a nice, lovely dovely romance ended a bitter feud by June 1941. That year she was also romanced, long distance, by Stuart Schweit (all the way from Chicago!). In August 1941, she was laid up in the hospital bed once again, this time ptomaine poisoning. By early 1942, she was dating Matty Fox. He was swiftly replaced by Cesar Romero in March 1942. By April, it was Terry Hunt, the bodybuilder. By November 1942, there was talk she would elope with Richard Deer (or Derr). This was a serious relationship, but it didn’t lead to the altar. Perc Westmore took over by early 1943. In April 1943, she was dated by Brazilian playboy George Guinle. However, by June 1943, she was serious with George Brent. Boy, did she move fast! She then went to a USO tour of Europe with Jack McCoy, and allegedly even met the Pope in Rome.

lildorothydayIn early 1945, she met Steven Stanford, and married him on December 2, 1945, in Los Angeles. Stanford was born on November 6, 1909, to Charles Stanford and Rhoda Jamnik in Norway. He was a Norwegian ski champion who decided to turn to clothes designing. He spent some time in Paris and New York before settling in Hollywood.

She gave up movies and bought a dress shop. She started designing clothes, and was quite successful at it. However, the marriage was very short lived – they separated in July 1946. Stanford remarried in 1960 to Betty Skelly and died on July 25, 1979.

Betty wasted no time in waiting, and started dating director Jack Bernhard. They were married on November 13, 1947. Jack was born on to, Joseph Bernhard and Tillie Schmalzback. He grew up in the States, and started working as a writer then as a assistant producer, finally graduating to producer. During the war, he served in the UK, where he met Jean Gillie, and actress who would become his wife. They married in about 1944 and divorced in 1947. Jean died in 1949 (what a sad waste! She was a superb actress).

Both Jack and Dorothy retired from movie by the early 1950s. I have no idea what they did afterwards, nor if they had any children.

Jack Bernhard died on March 30, 1997, in Beverly Hills, California.
Dorothy Day Bernhard died on May 7, 2001, in Beverly Hills, California.