Perky, pretty and a really good dancer, Lorraine Krueger had a brief but sweet Hollywood career, appearing mostly in B features. he gave up Hollywood to become a real estate agent. Let’s learn more about her!
Lorraine Krueger was born on February 27, 1918, in St. Louis, Missouri, to Johann Wilhelm Alfred Krueger and Jesse Ione Mullins. She was the third of four children, and the only daughter – her older brothers were Alfred Carl, born on September 28, 1909, and Herbert born on December 12, 1911, and her younger brother was Raymond. Her father worked as a buyer for a retail store and was an educated chandler, working with candles and wax.
Lorraine started dancing at the tender age of three, and pretty soon it was obvious the girl was a genuine talent. Dancing became the number one thing in her life, as she later told the papers, he “had studied dancing, dreamed dancing and danced”. After graduating high school, she started to work full time as a dancer. She soon found work as a ballet chorus girl, and steadily gained more and more popularity in the entertainment circles.
After she had achieved no little fame as a dancer in her own state, and buoyed by her success, decided to “go Hollywood”. But when she came to Hollywood, reality struck her. The best she could do was to secure a place for herself in the chorus of a dance number directed by Hermes Pan. At first she thought she couldn’t go so far backward in her career, but Pan immediately noticed her and after the chorus work managed to get her into “New Faces of 1937.” She will appeared in a solo dance in the picture, and that is how her career started!
Loraine appeared in some pretty famous movies from 1930s and 1940s. She made her debut in New Faces of 1937, a typical extravaganza musical with loads of ladies and no real plot. If you like em that way, by all means watch it! Then came Everybody’s Doing It, a totally ridiculous, implausible B Comedy Mystery, with the plot of, believe it or not, gangsters trying to cash in on a picture puzzles contest craze. Sounds crazy?
But a remedy was on its way – Lorraine had the goo luck to be a part of Bringing Up Baby, one of the premier, best screwball comedies ever made. Lorraine went the low budget western route next, in I’m from the City. A bit better than Exposed, a Glenda Farrell vehicle where she plays a smart talking female reporter, ala Torchy Blane, who wrongly accuses a decent man, and the comedic fallout from that. The male lead is played by Otto Kruger, an incredible actor who had this unique cobra-line charm. Lorraine also played one of the blond showgirls in Idiot’s Delight, a delightful comedy with Clark Gable and Lana Turner. Lorraine’s last 1930s movie was All Women Have Secrets, a forgotten movie about then-contemporary post-college life for three couples.
The 1940s were a bit better for Lorraine. Her first movie of the decade was The Farmer’s Daughter, but not the famous on with Loretta Young and Joseph Cotten, but a forgotten Martha Raye comedy. Equally forgotten is Golden Gloves, a sports drama about corrupted world of box, and one of the few movies that Jeanne Cagney, the talented sister of Jimmy, made. She then appeared in a proto-feminist classic, Dance, Girl, Dance, hemled by the great Dorothy Arzner, with Maureen O’Hara and Lucille Ball playing two very different breeds of dancers. And Louis Hayward is absolutely yummy in the movie!
Next up, Model Wife, with the plot, as a IMDB reviewer wrote: Model Wife casts Dick Powell and Joan Blondell, married but on the rocks in real life, as a married couple who have to keep their marriage a secret. They work in a department store that is run by Lucile Watson who does not permit folks married to each other in her employ. That’s enough of a strain on the marriage as it is. It’s same old, same old comedies that Powell and Blondell made by the bucketful in the 1930s, so nothing really interesting to write about. Unholy Partners was definitely a bit better fare: one of the popular newspapers drama (Citizen Kane is the sterling example here), it pairs Edward G. Robinson and Laraine Day. Since I love Laraine and think Edward was a top actor, I have to say I have a soft spot for the pairing. While the movie isn’t a classic, it holds up well and is worth watching. Then came Hi, Buddy, which is perfectly summarized on the IMDB page as: A military-flavored , world war two , song-and-dance B-feature in which a fund-raising effort save a boys club from being closed. Guess not a lot of art can be found here, but a fun and watchable musical? Yep! He’s My Guy was much in the same vein, a military themed musical.
Now Sarong Girl is an interesting movie! If nothing else, it’s worth seeing to see the alluring burlesque queen Ann Corio in one of the very few movies she made, and to see Irene Ryan, always a top-line comedienne. We continue in the military vein. The Adventures of a Rookie is a sub par comedy with a totally unknown comedy duo, Wally Brown and Alan Carney. Yep, it’s a Abbott and Costello ripoff, and it’s not a good one. Career Girl was a low budget musical about a girl who want to make it on Broadway – the lead is played by Frances Langford, and the male lead in the very handsome Craig Woods. Nothing to write home about, totally mid-tier. Slightly Terrific is a Leon Errol vehicle and he hold the movie together – if you like Errol’s crop of humor, this will be top! No story, slight supporting players, but plenty of Errol and some good dancing! Then we have Henry Aldrich’s Little Secret, another one of the Henry Aldrich movies,and we all know how that goes!
Like tons of other starlets, Lorraine appeared in Here Come the Waves. This is one of those movies I wrote about several times, so no need to write again. Out of This World is a comedy about the radio world with Eddie Bracken, Diana Lynn and Veronica Lake in the leads. Bracken does most of the heavy lifting here, and is very good a low budget version of Bing Crosby – Bracken rules! Lorraine’s last movie was One Exciting Week, another low budget but funny comedy with the fabulous Jerome Cowan, Pinky Lee and Shemp Howard trio.
And that’s it from Lorraine!
Why is Lorraine Krueger interesting? Well, her story shows us how extras lived and worked, and how, even when you got a small speck of fame, it wasn’t enough to parlay you into a solid career. You constantly had to work and reinvent yourself. In this regard, Lorraine’s story is very enlightening. Here is a article about the lives of the extras in Hollywood, 1930s style. This was a huge subculture in Tinsel town, one that does not get nearly the recognition that it deserves, so here are some bits and pieces from their lives:
Here’s Where 5000 Phone Calls a Day Give 500,000 People a Chance at Stardom! A little blonde girl named Lorraine Krueger plays her firs starring part in “New Faces of 1937” and a lot of people who ask where her career began. Mark Sandrich, director of the picture, says it began one day when he passed a stage where she was practicing some intricate steps with a group of chorus girls, L rehearsal for “Shall We Dance.” He liked her personality an skillful feet and gave her a bit in the picture. But Lorraine herself really began from Central insists her success with a phone call Casting. On the books of the Central Casting Bureau in Hollywood are listed approximately half a million persons representing every nation in the world, all living in Los Angeles. The names of these new-faces are tabulated on index rotary flies that are placed on the switchboard in front of seven operators. 6000 calls are a daily average and at five o’clock in the afternoon, when requests for tomorrow’s extras come in, these seven files are the busiest battery of indexes in the world. No matter what sort of odd SOS is issued from the studios, these extraordinary files are ready to meet it. Perhaps a director must be supplied with as many as 104 extras who can play speaking parts the difficult demand made in the casting of RKO’s “Toast of New York”; or the call may be for an even dozen of typical “beef-trust” chorus girls, such as were hired to dance in front of Jim Fisk, fabulous speculator, and financier, played by Edward Arnold in the same film, a brilliant spectacle of the 70’s. Another flip of the files makes available names of 100 actors needed In an oriental bazaar scene, each man speaking a different language. It la even possible to meet a call for seventy stuntmen who can recreate the wild scenes of the “Black Friday” place of more than 100 extras who will not revolt If the end of the day’s work finds them with black eyes and bloody noses. Behind It all. behind these visible files and the supply and demand that deals in blondes, brunettes, young ones and old on is that Intangible for the chance for success!
Now there are some important information about the life of an extra! At R-K-O. Lorraine salary was scaled from 75 to $100 weekly over the period of her contract. She didn’t earn a lot but enough for a normal life. Sadly, her RKO career got her nowhere, and she was shopping for better options, although that also didn’t work out in the long run. Here is the story of how she got a bit better work:
Her ability won her the the studio contract as a dancer. Without introduction she won the contract by appearing before Dance Director Hermes Pan. She did so well that Pan gave her a Short dance routine with Fred Astalre In “Shall We Dance.” Had Given Up Hope. But after that she was forgotten. It was true that she had a few camera appearance In brief dancing bits, but the long-awaited break that would push her up to featured roles did not come. When she had given all hope up of any movie fame. Director Ben Holmes discovered her. He did not find her on the-studio lot but saw her in a picture. Holmes, spied the girl doing a dance sequence in “Everybody’s Doing It.” He was at a neighborhood theater and Immediately decided she was the girl he needed as Penner’s leading lady in “I’m From the City.” The next day Holmes told the casting department to get that girl for him. Miss Krueger- was taking a few days off from work but she was found, brought back, tested and given the leading lady role alt in a few hours. i
During WW2, Lorraine was very active in the war effort and she performed in 281 camp shows all around the US. On the other hand her private life was very low key. In September 1949 Stu Wilson, radio M. C., were shopping for wedding rings. They were married later in the year, on December 2.
Stuart Robert Wilson was born on 24 September 1903 in Chicago, Illinois, to Robert John Wilson and Edith Alomeda GrahamThey family moved to Cleveland, Ohio, where Stuart was educated. He came to California before 1930, seeking work. He worked as a salesman in a flying school before landing a gig on a radio station in the 1930s. He was married twice before Lorraine – to Lois Helen Roussel in 1924, and Thelma Maree Ferris, in 1934. He had two children with Lois, Beverly Claire, born on June 3, 1925, and Robert Stuart, born on September 18, 1928. Wilson had a very minor acting career, appearing in several popular TV shows, like Batman and The Man from U.N.C.L.E..
Stuart Robert Wilson died on August 1, 1991. Lorraine didn’t remarry after his death and continued living in California.
Lorraine Kruger Wilson died on July 15, 2003, in Westlake Village, California.