Ellye Marshall

Ellye Marshall was a well endowed, sexy peroxide blonde who was quite a looker but not really a trained actress. When the time came for her to make moves to differentiate herself from tons of similarly endowed bombshells and make a solid career out of being a luscious starlet, she chose the dumb blonde routine. It sadly backfired on her, and her career was over after just a few short years.

EARLY LIFE

Eleanor Louise Marvak was born in 1928 in Brooklyn, New York City, New York, to Umberto Marvak and Rosella Celik. Her younger brother Bernard was born in 1931. Her father, an auto mechanic by trade, was born in Italy (then under the Austro-Hungarian empire), and came to the US in 1925. Her mother was born in Germany and her mother’s younger sister, Christina, was living with them when Eleanor was born.

The family moved to Mount Pleasant Town, Westchester, New York in the mid 1930s, and then to Danbury, Connecticut, sometime after 1940, where Eleanor attended high school. Pretty and a good dancer, Eleanor dreamed of a career in showbiz. As soon as she graduated in 1946, she was of to New York to become a chorus girl. Slowly she climbed up the ladder of success, appearing in all sorts of plays, like Ken Murrays Broadway revue, Blackouts, and was called to be an understudy for comedienne Marie Wilson. And this is how her career started!

CAREER

Ellye appeared in only five movies. her first one,Champagne for Caesar, is arguably her most famous – a bubbly, sophisticated, nicely made comedy with the even suave Ronald Colman playing an eccentric genius who, in order to get even with the pompous president of a soap company, goes on his quiz show in order to bankrupt his company. Strong support comes from veteran classic Vincent Price , Celeste Holm, Art Linkletter, Barbara Britton and even Ellye has a credited role (she plays Frosty). Classic Hollywood comedy at it’s best, a definite recommendation!

Then came sub par Second Chance, a Christian protestant propaganda movie with Ruth Warrick playing a terminally ill woman who changes her life completely as she understands she got alienated from her church and God, but it’s not too late to change that. The movie is very heavy handed with it’s message and can be bothersome to most people not in that state of mind. While solidly made and with okay performance,s it’s definitely not something especially noteworthy. Then came Rogue River, an unusual movie as the story unravels very effectively via flashback, as Peter Graves in the lead journeys by boat down the treacherous Rogue River. The axis of the movie is the relationship between Graves and Rory Calhoun, who plays his brother. Ellye plays the love interested, but is sadly overshadowed by the brotherly camaraderie and carries very little weight in the movie.

Ellye than appeared in campy deluxxe Cat-Women of the Moon, playing one of the cat women. Just go and watch the trailer and you’s understand what it’s all about. It’s truly really campy, and a true feast for those who enjoy such stuff. The costumes, the set design, the acting, it’s all so deliciously over-the-top-campy that you cannot but like the overall package! Plus nice to see some 1940s classic movie stars a bit past their prime (Marie Windsor, Sonny Tufts, Victor Jory).

Ellye’s last was The French Line . This movie can either be a total winner or a total loser, depends on what are you looking for. It you want some mindless fun with interesting costumes and passable musical numbers, go for it! If you want a coherent story, great characters and some depth, avoid like the plague. It’s fun, it’s breezy, it’s easy on the eyes and that’s it. Cm-on, the story itself is hardcore “paper thin plots” we can see in so many 1950s musicals – when her fiance leaves her, an oil heiress (played by Jane Russell) takes a cruise incognito in order to find a man who will love her for herself and not for her money. Anyone with half a brain can see that this has no semblance of reality – but who cares, if it’s an excuse to see Russell in a variety of racy costumes (along with a huge chorus line, where Ellye was one of the chorus girls). Russell also sings in her own (very torchy) voice.

That’s it from Ellye!

PRIVATE LIFE

In 1946, barely 16 years old, Ellye made the headlines by dating the older wealthy Lothario, Huntington Hartford. They flew together around the country, and seemed a bit more than casual daters, getting so serious that Ellye’s mother was reportedly furious over the pairing. But to no one’s surprise, the romance didn’t’ last. She was also seen with Joe Kirkwood, Jr., but that too was fleeting. On October 29, 1948 Ellye got married to taxi driver James Stanley Somers. Somers was born on to James Somers and Winnie Hammon on October 26, 1925, in Port Angeles, Washington. The family moved to Los Angeles when he was a small boy, and he grew up there and became a taxi driver in the 1940s, after serving in the army for WW2.

Ellye started as a starlet and did all the usual starlet stuff – sold kisses at the Biltniore Hotel Bazaar in Bklyn, posed for cheesecake, has small snippets in the news. When she decided to go level up and gain real fame, some maneuvering was needed, and a little help from her “friends”, the studio PR machine. Ellye’s master PR manager (whoever he was) decided that his client is gonna take the dumb blonde approach and hopefully become a star. This worked a few times before – Marie Wilson is a good example, but my own assessment is that these brand of PR moves did more harm than good. They perhaps sometimes gave the starlet a brief period of intense publicity, but in the long run, the public tired easily from this kind of stunts and would forget or even be resentful of the manipulation. And let’s be realistic for  a moment here, who wants to be remembered as dumb? Almost nobody. So why did they do this? Anyway, this was the path Ellye took, and she was ridiculed like crazy in the papers, obviously in compliance with the PR machine.

Look how ever her divorce was made fun of:

Showgirl Ellye Marshall, 21, divorced taxi driver James Somers Jr. 24, today on testi-money. he called her a “jerk” and a “louse.” A friend, Claudette Thorton, also testified Somers “was always flirting” behind his wife’s back. Superior Judge Ray Brockman asked Miss Marshall how she knew her husband was flirting if her back was turned. “Well, your honor,” she said, “there are some things you just know.”

Here are more of her “gems”

Pretty Ellye Marshall, aB’klyn gal, went to Hollywood and got a good role in “Champagne for caesar,” playing a dumb blonde, But she was not so dumb, I found out at 21, where she helped celebrate the 25th wed ding anniversary of the Harry Popkins of Hollywood. She had been telling me. “Boys have a harder time getting ahead in Hollywood than girls,” and I said “Why :” “Because,” she said after thinking it over, “there aren’t any women producers

And this one explains it all:

On Broadway Ellye Marshall Is Beautiful But Dumb By Mark Barron NEW YORK She is a healthy girl as one can see by the bloom in her cheeks, her curvaceous muscles and the fact that she takes such vigorous indoor exercise as being the beautiful blond ski girl in a sports scene in Ken Murrays Broadway revue, Blackouts. On the stage Ellye Marshall looks mighty fetching as she comes on in her ski pants, ski cap and a ski jacket, the latter leaving about two feet of her neck exposed. Over her shoulder she carries a pair of skis as she sings a song about going high on the hill top to ski through the air like a ‘bird, etc. “Can you really ski? I challenged her. “No, she confessed. “In my dressing room once I got curious and tried the skis on my feet just to see how they felt. I stumbled, fell and nearly twisted my ankle. So I took them off in a hurry as I have to dance in the show. Miss Marshall has to play a dumb girl of the Marie Wilson type, but she says she has to work very hard at it “You have no idea how much work it is to be a dumb girl, she said. “For instance, when I started out to meet you, I thought and thought about something dumb to say so you would laugh and say, Gee, the girl is beautiful but dumb. “Then I figured that you undoubtedly would comment that I am pretty or I am nice, and I would open my eyes wide and reply: That’s the nicest compliment I’ve had all day. I just got up five minutes ago. So now if you just say I’m pretty, then I’ll say my dumb line and then we can get down to some talking about serious things. Gee, the girl is beautiful, but she ain’t dumb. Miss Marshall says she is always getting cast against type. She plays the ski girl on Broadway and cant ski. In Hollywood films she is usually cast as a bathing beauty but naturally but she cant swim a stroke. In the forthcoming movie, “Champagne for Caesar , she plays the role of Frosty opposite Ronald Colman who is supposed to be a brilliant quiz-show contestant, a man who can answer every question in the book. Even in a story supposed to be entirely about erudite scholars, she still is cast as a beautiful but dumb chick. In one scene Colman comments that she “has possibilities for genius. Everyone thinks I have wonderful possibilities especially men, Miss Marshall says.

And another one (the last one, I promise!):

Ellye Marshall, co – starred with Rory Calhoun in “Rogue River,” was named “Miss Profile of 1950” by a group of amateur photographers. “But why,’ she asks,-blankly, “do they always make ” m e – w e a r – a bathing suit when they photograph my profile?’

Did it help her, long term? Of course not! It usually never does. Anyway, as her career winded down, Ellye got hitched again. She married Val Grund, musical arranger, on October 28, 1950.  Val Jerald “Joe” Grund was born on October 27, 1927 in Los Angeles, to Valentine John  Grund Sr. and Lucile Pasely. Val did musical arrangements from the time he was in high school, and was even awarded for his choral setting of the 100th Psalm, along with a honorable mention in the orchestral division. He slowly started to work in the showbiz industry and landed with Ken Murray, working on his Ken Murray show.

Ellye gave up on her career to raise a family. Their daughter Valerie Jean Grund was born on November 2, 1952. Sadly, the Grunds divorced sometime after the birth of Valerie. Val died on July 14, 1965, aged only 37.

Ellye married Peter Lance at some point before 1959. I have no idea what happened to her afterwards, but as always, I hope she had a happy life!

Trudy Wroe

A beautiful mannequin who came to Hollywood via the TV route, Trudy Wroe actually nabbed herself a lead in a series of TV movies, so she became less of a starlet and seemed more and more on the way to the upper echelons of the actresses ranks in Tinsel Town. However, her lucky break didn’t belt out and she was retired within three years. Let’s find out more about her.

EARLY LIFE

Gertrude Janice Wroe was born on May 25, 1931, in Los Angeles, California, to William Kenner Wroe and Viola Frances Horn. Her older sister Anita Joyce was born on October 5, 1927. Her father was a WW1 veteran who worked as a motor car salesman.

Trudy grew up in Los Angeles and originally was not interested in a showbiz career. Trudy majored in art at Manual Arts High school, with plans to become a commercial artist. Her plans were changed, however, when Photographer Tom Kelly saw her and thought she was just the girl he was looking for for a billboard ad. So she became a model, and after graduation studied at modeling schools. She modeled for the Mary Webb Davis agency for three years before becoming a free lancer, modeling for various artists and photographers. Trudy earned really good money this way, but she hit the financial roof when she started to appear in TV commercials. She got paid every time one of her commercial was shown, and when she made a Paper Mate pen commercial, she earned about $15,000 a year out of that one alone.

The Pen commercial was so well liked that Trudy started being noticed on a larger scale than before. For extra publicity, she was paired with a young-faced actor, Tommy Irish, to be a new wholesome duet. There were preparations for a weekly late-night show with the “sweetheart combination”, and they had been chosen as the outstanding personalities in television. Trudy received more than 300 fan letters weekly and was quite popular country-wide.

However, while this Tommy Irish pairing didn’t work out in the end, something else did. Trudy underwent a grueling elimination contest of over 100 actresses to land the choice role of Lorelei in the Big Town series of telefilms. She was named to the role after two months of tests. She had no prior acting experience. She later told Lydia Lane that the secret of her success was her styling and clothes. “I was surprised to get the role of Lorelei, They had interviewed dozens of girls and when they saw me for the first time they said I looked too young for the part. But when I took,my test I made sure I wore a sophisticated dress and they changed their minds. I don’t think men realize how a girl can alter her appearance with the right clothes and make-up.”

And her career was of!

CAREER

Trudy appeared in only three movies – Son of Sinbad, Beyond a Reasonable Doubt and Ask Any Girl

Son of Sinbad is a movie made for visual enjoyment and little more. Plot, acting, anything of depth – no sirree. But beautiful women, great costumes and other eye candy – yes please! The movie even gently spoofs the sword-and-sandal genre, so it does have at least a bit of depth (nothing much, mind you!). Trudy was one of the many harem dancers.

Beyond a Reasonable Doubt is the best movie on Trudy’s list, a tight, short and very well made thriller directed by the master, Fritz Lang. While it’s undoubtedly a B level production made on a shoestring budget, the writing and the story, a critique of capital punishment for circumstantial evidence, make it work. Dana Andrews and Joan Fontaine play the leads – I love both of these actors so I am a big biased, and while neither especially stretches the acting muscle here, they are more than adequate. The movie’s strong point is that it takes the viewer think and ponder the classic “could it really happen?”. With the strong message and a unexpected twist, in this is succeeds nicely. A overlooked classic, this one

Trudy’s third and last movie was Ask Any Girl, with Shirley MacLaine at the quirky best – she’s utterly charming and one of a kind! The whole movie follow suit – it’s a breezy, nice little comedy with a great supporting cast – David Niven, Gig Young, Jim Backus! Old Hollywood at it’s comedic best!

That’s all from Trudy!

PRIVATE LIFE

Papers noted that she and Pat Barrett were two attractive and petite employees at Hughes Aircraft, but I didn’t find any other reference to this, but I doubt that Trudy ever worked at the air plant, as it seems she got into modeling and stayed there until she came to television. Here is a short bio of Trudy at that time:

Trudy Wroe, blond, blue-eyed, She stands 5 feet, 5 inches from the tips of her 5 shoes to the top of her natural ash-blond curls, and tips the scales at 115 pounds. . Her classic measurements in the traditional north-south manner register a pleasing 34- 23-35. Her pet economy is clothes while her pet luxury is visiting a neighborhood beauty parlor once a week. Trudy’s taste in dates and her prerequisites for a husband are as diversified as her preference in music which ranges from “hot” jazz to lulling classics. She demands, in the following order, good looks, natural personality (nothing forced), and consideration in her dates. The man that she marries must have ambition, consideration and honesty.

There was also a story how Bob Cumming’s son helped choose Trudy for stardom:

Trudy Wroe, one of the beauties featured on the Bob Cummings show, was discovered by Bob, Jr., when he was all of seven years old! Two years ago, Bob Sr. was asked to co-judge a beauty contest. At the last minute, he had a studio call to report for work. As a gag, Mrs. Cummings took Bob Jr. to represent his father. He selected Trudy out of a bevy of gorgeous girls, and the other judges concurred with his choice. As a result, Trudy got some free publicity, was selected to be one half of the Singing Sweethearts in a commercial and now works regularly on Bob’s CBS-TV series

Trudy lived with her mother and older sister at the time she hit her five minutes of fame. In her spare time she sketched and played tennis.

Anyway, within an year after getting the role of Lorelei, Trudy was sacked. Why? Well, it’s afe to assume that putting a woman with no real acting experience in such a role that demands charisma and gravitas was probably a mistake. This is something that Hollywood can never learn – while it’s fine and dandy to chose your actors based on looks, but even then there has to be more than just the visage. Trudy was beautiful for sure, but obvious could’t hold down on such a demanding job. I feel sorry for her, since she was briefly launched into the stratosphere by the Hollywood PR machine, just to come crashing down a short time later. I was not surprised that her career never recovered – unless she went into the theater to learn to act and than return to films, or had another lucky break (it has happened before, bu rarely), there was really no real chance for her to succeed after that. There are literary thousands of beautiful girls and models who swarmed to Hollywood every month, and being pretty was just not enough.

Now for her love life. Trudy dated a unnamed wealthy easterner who flew out to see Trudy, but they battled at the airport. Incidentally, at the same time the mystery guy got his other swain, Anita Ekberg, a new, eight carat sparkler. In the end neither girl ended up with him long term.

Trudy then dated young meat packing heir Geordie Hormel, who would later marry Leslie Caron. Then Trudy got involved with Bert Friedlob, the eminent producer. They dated for more than a year, from late 1954 until early 1956, and it seems that Friedlob tried to help Trudy’s career with his producing sass. Friedlob had just come out of a marriage to actress Eleanor Parker, with whom he had three children, so perhaps the timing wasn’t perfect, but they stuck out for quite a long time by Hollywood standards! Friedlob was a colorful character himself. He started out as a wholesale liquor dealer who made several fortunes and lost them all in a span of 20 years. Before Eleanor, he was married to actress Jeannette Loff, but she died in 1942.

However, it seems that Friedlob liked pretty ladies (he was generally tough as a womanizer and party animal in Hollywood, and had an affair with Lana Turner among others) and Trudy was not his one and only. He also dated Barbara Nichols on the side. While this is pretty standard in Hollywood, where everybody dated everybody else, it seems that Trudy wasn’t really satisfied with it. Why? Well, during her tenure as Lorelei Kilburne, Trudy decided that she wanted to get married. An except:

Trudy Wroe, who spent six months playing newsgal Lorelei Kilbourne while Mark Stevens was filming his Headline series, says the role gave her a bright idea: Getting herself happily married. ” After all,” she says, ” Lorelei always , has marriage in the back of her mind, and she’s a contagious character! “

Friedlob wasn’t quite in with the idea, having just gotten divorced, so the pair broke up. Sadly, he died on October 7, 1956, from cancer. I presume that Trudy still wanted to get hitched – but then chose a possibly even worse choice for matrimony – Marty Kimmel, the playboy extraordinaire who was married, very briefly, to Gloria DeHaven. Marty dated almost all the pretty girls in Hollywood, and, of course, Trudy was no exception. Unlike many of the girls, she managed to snag him for a longer time, but still, Marty was a playboy at heart and marriage was probably not in the cards.

Doubtlessly noticing this herself, Trudy decided to play the field herself, and was often seen with Bernard Shubert, the video packager. So we have a kind of a love triangle, Bernard, Trudy and Martin. She was also sometimes seen with Hugh French at the Gourmet Beverly.

As time went by, it seemed that Marty was really stuck on Trudy. One year he flew to L.A. to spend the holidays with Trudy, and they were often spied having cocktails at the . Luau. However, also, as time went by, there was no great improvement in their status, so Trudy continued to seek other opportunities on the side.

She was seen with publisher Bob Petersen and was a sometime date of Mac Krim, but the guy was massively in love with Kim Novak at the time, and only dated Trudy when Kim was out of town – when Kim returned he literary wasn’t dating anyone but Kim. She continued seeing Shubert, and ultimately broke up with Kimmel.

Trudy then dated up a storm with a string of men, in some random order: Joe Kirkwood Jr. (who was married to Cathy Downs), songwriter Jule Styne, attorney Bentley Ryan, and actor John Carroll.

In late 1958, Trudy made the papers when she was getting the rush from Prince Kazem Kashani of Iran, who was handsome, a bachelor and just 32. They were seen everywhere for a few months, but this too failed in the long run. However, Trudy had by that time already met the man she would marry – Don Durant.

They made their relationship official in Early 1959,  and pretty soon there were newspaper items that Trudy and Don were getting married February 28. Don Durant was born on November 20, 1932, in Long Beach, California, and was famous for his Johnny Ringo persona.

Trudy may have had a long string of wealthy beaus, but she definitely didn’t marry Durant for the money, as this article contests:

Don Durant, a converted linger, whose CBS Johnny Ringo” series almost but not quite gunned down its ABC competition, the high-rolling Real McCoys, was in a reflective mood. Ringo bit the dust only a month ago and Don, who cut quite a figure in the title role, still cant figure out why. Our ratings right up to the end hovered between 19 and 24, and when you can do that well (with reruns) against such a blockbuster as Walter Brennans McCoys you’ve got a hit on your hands. This rating is far better than most of the seasons new programs have been able to achieve,” he said, a steely Ringo look beginning to come into his eyes. Well, thats show biz,” I said cleverly, then added, The demise of Ringo is indubitably due to behind-the-scenes maneuvers. You know, time slots, sponsor conflicts and all that sort of thing.” I said it pontifically, just like 1 knew what 1 was talking about. I hope I fooled him.’ Don Is married to the former Miss Trudy Wroe, who at one time achieved considerable fame as the Paper Mate Pen Girl In those commercials. But her residuals have long since run out and I was greatly concerned as to how Don was now rustling up the mortgage money for their Encino mansion. Tell me, Don, how does an unemployed actor like you make ends meet,” I asked pointedly with great tact, j ‘ , Are you kidding? I never had It so good.” , You’re out of work and you never had It so good?” ‘ It turns out that as a result of his Ringo series Don Is now In great demand for personal appearances all over the Country, Hes made 40 since last May when production ended. His act runs 25 minutes. It plays rodeos, fairs, amusement parks and even the opening , of shopping centers. ; Don, as Ringo, rides onstage astride his trusty horse, his fancy seven-shooter In hand, He sings four songs, talks about the TV show, answers questions about the Old West. Then he hangs around for a’ couple of hours after the show talking with the kids. I have , made three times as much money doing this since we , quit filming last May as I earned for the entire episodes of Ringo. I like the work, too, I do everything on these P.A.s from riding a horse to kissing babies. Only last week, after a show, 1 had lunch with 4,800 kids and signed autographs for everyone of (hem.” I said, well, .that Is really earning your money the hard way. He didn’t agree. He said he likes kids very much. Don may go around kiss-1 mean babies, at supermarkets and such-like places but I think his heart still lies with Johnny Ringo. Ringo,” he told me, is far from dead. We are hoping the series will be picked up to replace one of the new network shows that will be among the bunch folding around January. If not, I feel It will at least be syndicated. Regardless of the fate of Ringo, Don will be back on the TV screen one way or another. Hes formed his own Allison Productions and plans a modern-day series. One of the networks is paging him for a one-hour series and guest shots on specials loom in the offing. . . Not too bad for a fellow who used to hang around CBS as recently as 1957 hoping to pick up extra and bit parts. You and I should make as much money as this unemployed actor.” And he has still got 250 fan clubs rooting for him.”

Trudy gave up her career for family. The Durants had two children, Heidi, born on March 7, 1962, and Jeffrey, born on March 10, 1964.  Durant was a typical Hollywood blue collar who worked and worked and worked. While he didn’t have a hundred credits to his name on IMDB, he worked constantly, be it as a singer or a real estate agent. Here is some info from his obituary:
Actor, Singer. He was a mainstay in the 1950s and the early 1960s on television making many notable guest appearances, among them “Sergeant Preston of the Yukon,” “State Trooper,” “Maverick,” “Perry Mason,” “Zane Grey Theatre,” “The Twilight Zone,” “Alfred Hitchcock,” “The Wide Country” and “The Virginian.” These guest spots led to the 1959-60 half-hour TV series “Johnny Ringo” where Don played a gunslinger-turned sheriff. He brandished a LeMat handgun that featured an extra barrel that fired a shotgun round. For good measure, the talented vocalist wrote and then sang the theme song. The show was a bonanza for the toy industry. It generated board games, character puppets, gun sets and canteens. He was born Donald Allison Durae in Long Beach, California. His father was killed in a traffic accident prior to his birth. Don also, at age eleven, narrowly followed in his dad’s fate when he was struck by a cement trunk leaving him in a coma with many fractures relegating him to bed for over a year. His mother remarried, this time to a Nevada cattle rancher. Don spent a lot of his teen years on the ranch learning the ways of a cowboy, riding, roping and singing. The couple divorced and he was back in Long Beach. In junior high, he was a dee-jay on KPRO radio in nearby Riverside where he often sang. Still bothered from injuries due to his bike accident, he managed to play football by wearing special plates. He was drafted during the Korean War but a hip injury found him confined to Letterman Army Hospital in San Francisco. He completed his military obligation with an assignment to Special Services furthering his singing experience by entertaining the veterans at Letterman. His post-military days found him pursuing a singing and acting career while touring with a theater group. Don appeared at the Sands and The Sahara in Las Vegas. He made his first serious attempt at acting with an uncredited appearance in the 1955 film “Battle Cry.” He remained active on the Hollywood scene by teaching actors how to ride horses and shoot guns and worked as a technician helping to construct the first kinescopic recorder and sound recorder. Durant had a starring role in the ‘B’ film “She Gods of Shark Reef” in 1956. He toured as a vocalist with the Tommy DorseyFrankie Carle and Ray Anthony orchestras and even recorded an album with Anthony. More and more guest-starring roles came his way, mainly western themes. However, by 1964, the days of the cowboy was over as well as the era of the big bands. His roles diminished and eventually faded altogether. He retired from show business completely while settling in Orange County operating a real estate office. He made public appearances and attended shows and conventions where he would strap on his famous LeMat pistol and sign autographs almost to the end of his days. He was diagnosed with lymphocytic leukemia in 1992 which led to his death at age 72 in the family home located at Dana Point, California.
It seems that Don was a happy go lucky guy who constantly cracked jokes and was well liked by many. He and Trudy would often travel all over the world together always laughing and having fun. By all accounts they had a very happy marriage. Don became a multimillionaire through his real estate investments, and the couple enjoyed their retirement in California.
Don Durant died on March 15, 2005 in Orange County, California. Trudy continued living in Orange county after his death.
Trudy Wroe Durant died on November 10, 2007, in Orange County, California.

 

Shirley Standlee

Shirley Standlee had a very interesting and unusual life, but it had nothing to do with her acting career. Shirley was a method trained actress who constantly sought to better her acting sill and had a solid run in 1950s TV series and theater. But it all pales in comparison to her role as the wife of one of the 20th century most famous war correspondents and journalists, Fancois Pelou. Let’s learn more about her!

EARLY LIFE

Shirley Standlee was born on Christmas Day (December 25), 1926 in Los Angeles, California, to Elmer Fair Standlee and Mildred Cowdery. Her older sister Suzanne was born on November 10, 1921. Her father was an affluent buyer, and the family employed at least one maid in the 1920s and 1930s.

Shirley grew up in California as a typical upper-middle-class girl, attending civic events and being active in local society. She probably attended school in Los Angeles, and went for an acting career after high school graduation – that is how it all started. Shirley remained very close to her sister Suzanne, and they often summered in LaJolla during the time that Shirley lived in New York.

CAREER

Shirley worked extensively in television, but made only one theatrical movie – Patterns. And what a movie it is! I for one loved it! Such an incredibly relevant movie to his day, it deals with greed in all it’s form. Here is a great summary from imdb: Well-done story of corporate shark, owner of a vast conglomerate, who tries to break the VP he thinks can no longer do the job. Everett Sloane plays the heartless owner who nurtures his executives with bitter words and daily shouting matches. Ed Begley plays the downtrodden VP; he’s more than able to take care of himself, but after years of fighting with Sloane he’s exhausted. He’s 62 and afraid he won’t find another job and refuses to quit; he’s worked for the company for 30 years and believes he’s got a place there. Van Heflin is the executive brought in to replace Begley, unbeknownst to them both. After Sloane tells him of his plans, Heflin tries to tell the boss that he doesn’t want the job. Begley is his friend. But deep down, he finds that he really does want it, just not at that cost.

The acting performances are uniformly excellent. Ed Bengley, usually a large ham who chewed scenery, is great as a man tired of fighting with wolves, Van Helfin displaying his beguiling mix of warmth and coldness (I love him in all the movies I’ve seen so far, he always has this dual edge), but Everett Sloane! Oh! He’s so PERFECT: I know that some reviewers consider him too histrionic and loud in the role, but this is exactly how some of these people operate – some narcissists love to be heard and seen on a grand scale. But always the menace, the ruthlessness, the egotism – how he shows is across is simply astounding! IMHO he’s a highlight of an very good movie. The story-line is trim and tight, and Rod Serling adds his personal touches here and there, enough to make it more than a pedestrian, million times seen before movie. Kudos to him and all the actors! Shirley’s role is sadly quite small.

That’s it from Shirley!

PRIVATE LIFE

Shirley was one of the rare women who saw acting as an art for, not the tool for getting rich and famous. She attended the old school acting schools in Los Angeles, and got into the theater circuit in the mid 1940s (she had no designs to become a movie star and Hollywood never interested her). Young, idealistic and talented, Shirley wanted to hone her craft and become a truly great actress. However, even when she eschewed Hollywood and worked in the theater, she was in for a rude awakening. As she later told the papers: “I supported Tallulah Bankhead in ‘Private Lives’ on the road and Helen Hayes in ‘Good Housekeeping’ in 1949, and lots of others in radio and TV since, but all I learned were tricks, effective hut phony, not the real emotion an actress must project.”

A strong inner need to develop herself pushed her to leave California and settle in New York, looking for places where she could learn more about acting. She found what she was looking for in Lee Strasberg and his Actors Studio. She studied for a few yeas with him and immersed herself into method acting. Shirley then found work in supporting roles in both television and in the theater. She worked in a variety of projects with fellow Actors studio alumni, Sidney Lumet and writer/producer Rod Serling.

Shirley married french journalist Francois Pelou in 1954 in New York. In the summer of 1960, the couple adopted a son, Christopher. And now the interesting part of her life begins!

First, something about Pelou. Born in 1924 in France, he was trained to become an economist and worked in the editing department of Agence France-Presse, (APE) preparing dispatches, but always dreamt of exotic lands and travel. In 1950, he was sent to cover the Korean war (and his wanderlust yeas started). He had a reporting stint in China, then came to the US from Tokyo and settled for a brief time in San Francisco. He then joined the AFP office in New York, where he worked in the political section before taking up the Sports section which he kept for four years. It was during this time that he met and married Shirley. For AFP, he covered the Olympic Games in Melbourne, Rome and Tokyo. Then came 1963 and his claim to fame. He was the first French journalist sent to Dallas the day after the assassination of John F. Kennedy, and, two days later, he was a eyewitness to Oswald’s killing in the basement of the local police headquarters by nightclub owner Jack Ruby. He was interviewed by other reporters and covered Ruby’s trial the following year which gained him mainstream fame and recognition. He told the papers: “Ruby was next to me and shoved me to go kill Oswald who was coming right in front of me (…) Oswald was the first to see his killer arrive, that’s why I always believed they knew each other.”

A few months after the assassination of President Kennedy, Francois and Shirley left New York for Vietnam and lived in Saïgon (present-day Ho Chi Minh City) where he was a war correspondent and Bureau Chief for AFP. Francois got the rep of a highly-objective reported and was well regarded by both fractions. Also in Vietnam, Francois met the fierce Italian female reported Oriana Fallaci and fell madly in love with her. Their relationship would last for more than ten years and span several continents, from Saigon to Rio-de-Janeiro, from New York to Madrid, and of course Tuscany and Florence (where Oriana was from). Francois himself said about Oriana:  “Oriana Fallaci arrived in my bureau in 1967. We covered many events together, she would become very important in my life.” He called her a real tornado and she dedicated at least one of her books to him. (NOTE: Fallaci is a incredibly interesting, scandalous and divisive personality. Learn more about her here and make your own conclusions, but as far as female journalists go, she was one of the best). I wonder how Shirley felt about all of this – Francois was her husband after all. I know that its terribly hard to live in such circumstances and that lust and passion often run rampart when you are at death’s door every day, and that such affairs are commonplace, but I could find no information on how Shirley lived, was she afraid for Francois every day? or was it a bit more relaxed than I imagine it?

After four very stormy years, Shirley and Francois were evacuated from Vietnam during the 1968 Têt Offensive, and he was transferred to Rio de Janeiro the same year. It was a time of great strife in Brazil, with constant political protests between Brazilian pro-democracy moderates and right-wing forces, governed by the brutal military regime and dictatorship. There was drama for Francois here too, and this is perhaps the most intense of all of his journalistic endeavors.

Francois was working on the story about kidnapping of the Swiss ambassador, while the Brazilian secret police have forbidden the press to speak about this affair, because it is the third kidnapping of ambassador by the guerrillas of Captain La Marca (Which were a thorn in their side for a long time). They contacted AFP to give conditions for the ambassador’s release. Taking a huge risk, François immediately published this information and informed the French Embassy, ​​knowing that he has just violated the orders of the Brazilian police. He was immediately arrested and held in a dirty, stinking cell in the attic of the prison, and to make it all worse, there was a intense heat wave. During a long and grueling interrogation, he lost consciousness twice but gave away nothing on his contacts with the guerrillas.

Meanwhile his office was searched. The police took his things, including two bottles of moon-dust that he got from US astronaut Pete Conrad. However, arresting Francois proved to be a costly mistake for the regime, as he was a well known journalist, pretty famous since the death of Oswald, and when his arrest made the headlines, there was violent public outrage, with the generous backing of the American press who don’t like what the military was doing. Francois was released, brought at 3 AM, under guard, to the Rio airport, pushed into an Air France plane and immediately exiled from Brazil. He spent the end of the year in Paris, happy and satisfied to be the instigator of the release of sixty guerrilla political prisoners in exchange for the Swiss ambassador.

In the 1971, the family returned briefly to New York City, then lived in Hong Kong, Paris and, ultimately Madrid in 1975. Francois becomes very close to future King Juan Carlos, and is the first reported who learns of Generalissimo Francisco Franco’s death.

After eight years of life in Madrid, the family left for Brussels where Francois covered European issues, but he got bored very quickly and decided to retire to his house in Marbella. Around this time, Shirley and Francois separated for good, he went on to live in in France (in an ancestral home built in the 1760s, located in the city of Conques) and she stayed in Madrid. Francois entered into a relationship with a Frenchwoman, Caroline, who remained his companion for the rest of his life. In a 2016 interview Francois claimed that he gave Shirley “his word” (whatever that means) so they never had to do all the official divorce stuff. Their son Christopher moved to the United States where he lives today. He served in the US Navy before retirement. Shirley spent the rest of her life in Spain.

Shirley Standlee Pelou died on December 10, 2018, in Madrid, Spain. She was cremated..

Francois Pelou died in France in 2019.

Marvelle Andre

Marvelle Andre was blonde, pert and cute, with great riding skills and enough charm to make a make a name for herself in Tinsel town, at least as a rider and stand-in. Unfortunately this did not propel her into more substantial acting roles, but she was a very active participant in Hollywood life for a time. Let’s learn more about her!

EARLY LIFE

Alta Marvelle Anderson was born on May 12, 1919 in Kansas City, Kansas, to Harry Anderson and Hazel Hiatt. She was their only child. Her father was an auto mechanic who managed his own workshop.

The family moved to Tulsa, Oklahoma when Marvelle was just a baby (in late 1919), then to Long Beach, California by 1930. Marvelle attended high school there and developed a strong interest in the performing arts. Being around horses and sharp shooting were her favorite hobbies – as a result she was a champion horse rider that took parts in rodeos and other horse shows. She was also a crack shot with a rifle.

By 1940 the family settled in Los Angeles. Marvelle started to act pretty early, int he early 1930s, which means she acted before she graduated from high school.

CAREER

Marvelle broke into movies when she was barely out of her years. Her first movie was Wine, Women and Song, a completely forgotten Lillyan Tashman musical, followed by Maniac. Now this is a movie worth mentioning. Probably a great deal many people enjoy in what we call quality trash cinema – movies that are so bad they are actually good. The Room is perhaps the most well known example, but there are ample such movies, if one just tries to find then. Maniac falls squarely into this category. Corny lines, stupid story, horrible overacting… You get the picture. But, it seen as an excursion into the absurd and ridiculous., it could actually give some pleasure to he viewer! Good to know that those movies were made with gusto even in the 1930s! This was followed by by the no-plot extravaganza, George White’s 1935 Scandals.

And here comes another ridiculous movie, Marihuana. Guess the theme of he movie! I guess Hollywood made much of these kinds of movies, Most people just don’t stumble upon them today (maybe that is for the best). Luckily, Marvelle’s next movie was a quality comedy, and  a Laurel and Hardy comedy at that – Our Relations.

Only two movies were listed for Marvelle in the 1940s – Gambling Daughters and She’s in the Army. Both are low budget comedies with a decidedly B class cast, although that doesn’t necessarily mean that the actors were not good! When you have Sig Arno, Lyle Talbot and the likes, at least you know you can watch the movie solely for them.

1950s were a bit more prosperous for Marvelle (although not by that much, I grant you). She appeared in The Jackie Robinson Story, a unique movie as it was about baseball great Jackie Robinson and it is truly an important film. If you strip away the fact that it was a B class move that was not widely seen and doesn’t have that much of an production value, you till get a powerful, strong movie about all the injustices and prejudices Jackie Robinson had to fight on his way to baseball stardom. And Jackie, playing himself, despite not being an professional actor, is so charismatic and likable that he does his job admirably! And he legendary Ruby Dee plays his wife, wonderful!

The Admiral Was a Lady is actually a very weird movie, about four ex-GIs who work diligently at finding ways to avoid work. Yep, not something you see in every movie! Obviously a portion of viewers will be repelled by this dilettante attitude, but my interest was tickled! Even if you are not for it, The cast makes up for any “morally ambiguous” elements – Edmund O’Brien and Wanda Hendrix! Edmund always had that sharp, dark edge in his roles, and even here you can see it beneath the breeze veneer. And I love Wanda, perhaps not solely for her acting talent. And Rudy Vallee in a supporting role. Marvelle’s next movie, Kentucky Jubilee, was a dismal comedy with a thin story with Jerry Collona and his vaudeville skits as the center piece. Luckily, next movie in line, aptly called Hold That Line, is a dolis Bowery boys comedy.

Marvelle’s last movie was We’re Not Married!, a collage comedy about five couples who learn they were not legally wed and now must make a honest appraise of their current state of affairs (literary in some cases). While the story and the script is nothing to sneeze at, we have a wonderful cast full of Hollywood luminaries – Marilyn Monroe, Zsa Zsa Gabor, Louis Calhern, Ginger Rogers, Paul Douglas, Eve Arden, among others), and superb costume and set design! This is one huge, puffy delicacy with no nutritional value, but oh so charming and lovable!

That is all from Marvelle!

PRIVATE LIFE

Marvelle got some publicity in Hollywood due to her status as a stand-in and her unique talents on horseback. This is a typical article to showcase her skills:

Marvelle Andre, a petite, 18-year-old miss whose main screen experience to date has been as a dancer. At the moment, she is stand-in for Evelyn Daw, who is playing the feminine lead opposite James Cagney in the Grand National musical, “Something to sing About,” being directed by Victor Schertzincer. Young Miss Andre has also served as stand-in for Constance Bennett, but her ambitions do not run along the line of the dramatic, singing or dancing ac tresses She wants to be a star of a type that has not been seen in years. She wants to play in westerns in which the leading character is a girl. With that end in view, she has become an accomplished trick roper an equestrienne and an expert snot with both pistol and rifle.

Here is another small quirk about being a stand-in, and it concerns hands!

The superstition of Barbara Stanwyck, Alexis Smith and other happily married young women on the Warner Brothers star roster has brought Marvelle Andre a more or less continuous job in pictures. Miss Andre, an extra and bit player subject to studio call, has appeared, in part, in more pictures than has either of the better-known stars mentioned. “In part,” in fact, because only her parts are photographed. Miss Stanwyck, Miss Smith and a number of other feminine stars do not like to remove their wed-‘ding rings, even for picture purposes. So, when they are supposed to write letters, or wring their hands or wash dishes, as Miss Stanwyck does in “Christmas in Connecticut,” it is Miss Andre’s hands which are photographed for closeup

Superstitious for sure, but did it work in the end? While Babs’ Sanwyck marriage to Bob Taylor crashed and burned in the end, Alexis Smith’s marriage to Craig Stevens was for keeps so we can conclude that Marvelle did a mighty fine thing, at least in that regard (although there are persistent rumors about the true state of that marriage too, but who knows?). Anyway, beside being an actress, Marvelle danced the hula at the Century club by night, and practiced rope-twirling whenever she cold by day. She seemed like a really energetic woman who knew what she wanted and worked hard for it.

Marvell was very active during WW2, doing more than her bi for the war effort, and even traveled to Alaska with Ingrid Bergman and others to entertain the troops. During these war bond travels, Marvelle often did her hula skit and she was known country wide for being a hula master. Except this, due to her horsewoman skills, she often took parts in parades and tournaments. For instance, one year she was a part of the Rose Tournament where she was riding Snowball, the thoroughbred Arabian steed trained by Mark Smith especially for her use in the parade.

As for her love life, nothing was written in the papers but I fond this – by 1944, Marvelle was married to Elmer H. Adams, Burbank police chief. I don’ know the exact timeline, but hey married after 1940 since Elmer was still married to Estelle McGuire that year. So Elmer divorced and married Marvelle sometime in the interim. So who is exactly this Elmer fellow? There is much written about him, but lets streamline it a bit.

Elmer was born on July 24, 1902 in  Broken Bow, Nebraska, to John Adams and Cora Williams, the third of four children. He was a very capable man, as he finished only eight grades of elementary school before going to work in Delight, Nebraska as a laborer. Later he moved to California and found work as a police officer there. On May 20, 1927, he married  Estelle L. McGuire. Their daughter Beverly was born in 1935. In 1932 he became the youngest ever police chief of Burbank. It seems that, like Marvelle, he was a crack shot and owned a number of rifles. Taken from Burbank PD web site:

The first true appointment of a Chief of Police occurred on August 15, 1927, when Malcolm G. Lowry took office.  Some would credit George Cole as the first Chief of Police, retroactive to his days as a Marshal and being in office when the department changed its name to the Burbank Police Department.   Two additional chiefs followed Lowry, until April 15, 1932, when Chief Elmer Adams was selected to head the department.  Chief Adams remained in office for nearly twenty years.  During his tenure, allegations of organized crime and connections to gangster Mickey Cohen made the newspapers.  There were additional stories of a mob hideout on Orange Grove Terrace, and illegal gambling halls that were hidden along the rancho area. In 1951, the California Crime Commission began an investigation into Chief Adams and others within the city.  Three days after the commission publicly announced the Chief’s refusal to answer questions about his income and relationship with underworld characters, Adams resigned, followed shortly thereafter by the city manager and a councilman.  Without a succession plan in place, the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department loaned Hugh C. McDonald to oversee operations.  During McDonald’s term in 1952, the Animal Shelter was opened.

This is the kind version, on other places on the internet you can find information how Adams was a classical corrupt cop who paid two yachts and an expensive home with his “loot”, was well connected with mobsters and very well greased. Learn more about the whole story on Wes Clark’s web page (it is a truly incredible story about how people, when hey band together and have a common goal for the greater good, can do wonders). When I think 1940s police, I think film noir, and of course of both good and bad cops – it seems that Adams was perhaps one of the bad cops (maybe a greedy cop is an apt description).

Marvelle quit Hollywood for the time being, but was very active in local amateur theater groups. (she acted in My sister Eileen, for instance). As she was the wife of the local police commissioner (who possibly had his fingers in more than one dough), she had a good social standing and was a valued member of the community. In 1950, after five plus years of marriage and with a will to act in more serious fare than community theater, Marvelle returned to movies, and did a few uncredited minor roles. This lasted until 1952.

After Elmer’s dismissal from the police force, the couple moved to Cosa Mesa, where Elmer started to work for the Mesa Verde Country Club.The couple continued residing in Cosa Mesa and became parents of a daughter, Donna, was born on either on November 12, 1953 or November 19, 1955.

Elmer died from a heart attack On May 4, 1966. Marvelle continued living in California, and did not remarry.
Marvelle Anderson Adams died on June 1, 1990, in Los Angeles.

 

June Tolley

Best known for being Frank Sinatra’s semi-serious girlfriend, June Tolley is actually a very interesting woman with a colorful life – from a rough childhood through 1950s modeling career, to a started marriage, then dating Frankie, getting engaged to royalty and finally finding her own niche in TV commercials, June lived through it all! Let’s learn more about her!

EARLY LIFE

Bertha June Rossiter was born on June 28, 1930, in Los Angeles, California, to June Rossiter and Anna Milano. Her father was of Swedish descent (hence his name – in English it’s a feminine name, not so in Swedish) and a taxi driver by trade. She was the youngest of seven children –  her brother Peter was born on July 27, 1918, her brother Paul was born on and died on November 10, 1919, her sister Maria Helen was born October 12, 1921, her brother Frederick was born on May 26, 1923, her sister Gloria Anna was born on September 10, 1925, and her sister Betty Jean was born on August 30, 1927.

Now for the sad part – Bertha and her two sisters, Maria and Betty were put into the Los Angeles Roman Catholic Orphan Asylum sometime before 1940. While I don’t know the whole story, it seems that their father ended up in prison (St. Quentin) their mother died, and the youngest children became wards of the state. The older children were big enough to function by themselves. This is such a sad story, but June beat the odds and became a successful model. Living in Los Angeles, she had been around movie people all her life this is how she got a bit part in Bing Crosby’s movie, “Pennies from Heaven.”, but most of her work was as photographer’s model for magazine covers, fashion ads and similar.

This catapulted her, in time, to movies, and her career started!

CAREER

According to IMDB, June appeared in only two movies and her film career is definitely not one of her stronger suits. It is possible, based on my newspaper archive research, that she appeared in a whole list of other movies and TV series, but she’s not credited so nah.

The first one is The Garment Jungle, a bag of mixed pleasures. Basically a racket movie, it’s part film noir with dramatic touches, a so-so mesh of it’s two directors – Vincent Sherman and Robert Aldrich. And boy, we can hardly find two such disparate directors!Sherman was known as a woman’s director in the vein of George Cukor – he excelled in melodrama and worked with great divas like Miriam Hopkins, Joan Crawford and Bette Davis. Robert Aldrich was the master of unseen violence, one of the few directors that showed what a phantom menace looks like. Combine them and you have an interesting experiment – not a completely successful one, mind you. The movie, which ended up begin completely unknown afterwards – has flashes of brilliance as much as some truly dismal parts. The story is nothing to gape about – racketeering in the garment district of New York – but it works as a framing device for some very relevant questions and punches you hard when you finally realize that those things happened in real life. Oh yes, people literary died in these rackets. The actors are a mixed bag too. There are wonderful actors like Lee J. Cobb and , and on the other hand, we have Kerwin Matthews in the lead, handsome enough but a total wooden pole. However, the atmosphere and the style overall is superb. There is much “angry silence”, menace and doom in the air, and you can easily feel that Robert Aldrich did a large portion of the movie. It’s his signature style – brutal yet always subtle. Sherman infuses the more “intimate parts”, and they are lacking compared to the rest of the movie. The female love interest, played by Gia Scala, is so marginal to the story it’s almost sad, and Matthews was too thin an actor to truly pull of the more challenging gentle scenes. If you could pull out the redundant cheesy side of the movie, It’s almost a wonderful film noir, and it’s a shame it so neglected today, despite its shortcomings.

The second one is The Joker Is Wild,actually a biopic made right. While not completely truthful to the source material, its got Frank Sinatra playing Joe E. Lewis and it works very nicely. The music is good and so is the supporting cast, so this one is a winner overall.

That’s all from June!

PRIVATE LIFE

June met her first husband, actor John Compton, at a Hollywood dance. They were married on October 13, 1948, when June was only 18 years old. John Compton Tolley was born on June 21, 1923, in Lynchburg, Tennessee, to Lem Tolley and Ethel Compton. His father owned a distillery and a large farm near Lynchburg. After John graduated from Moore high school In 1941, he studied agriculture at Tennessee Polytechnic institute at Cookeville for a while before he went Into the army. After his discharge he decided to try his luck in Hollywood. He joined a large number of young hopefuls living in a shared house, was working as a waiter and hanging around the actors’ union hall, the “hiring hall”, all day. Finally he got a job on a labor gang at one of the studios, cleaning up and doing odd jobs. Then they put him to answering the telephone, on the Columbia set, for Rita Hayworth. He began taking acting lessons on the set, and paid the teacher $100 to give him a good part in the class play. That was when the talent scout noticed him and his big break came. He got minor and not-so-minor parts In “Mildred Pierce,” “Cheyenne,” “O, Susanna” and other movies. When his film work dried out, he went to Broadway for a performance or two, than would return to Hollywood and so on. 

Since John’s Hollywood career was lackluster in the early 1950s, the couple decided to try their luck in the Big Apple (again). June and John were halfway across the desert on their way to New York when their old car broke down, and the garage man estimated that it would take $150 to repair it. John sold the car for $15 and spent the last money he had for two bus tickets to New York. “As soon as they got to New York, I had a call from Hollywood,” John said. “They wanted me back for a movie. They flew me back, all expenses paid”. June got jobs on TV shows in New York, in night clubs there and in Miami. Her continued appearing on magazine covers, frequently modeling brides’ costumes, evening clothes, bathing suits, sultry South Sea Island costumes for travel posters.

John and June together did summer stock for four years, at Lake Minnetonka in Minnesota, at Denver and in Ontario, and she worked at Earl Carrolls as a chorus girl. She became one of the famous Copacabana girls. June competed for the Miss Rheingold of 1954. Although she didn’t’ win the title, here is her sales pitch:

JUNE TOLLEY I have had the thrill of louring 27 hospitals in a pie wagon, appearing on the “Show of Shows,” “Man Against Crime,” “Crime Syndicated” and other TV dramatic shows, as well as playing leads In various stock companies. My modeling career was purely secondary to my theatrical career and it is a strange twist of fat that my modeling might be responsible for attaining the greatest fame of all, “Miss Rheingold of 1954.”

Now comes the fun part. I can’t be 100% sure now since both June and John are dead, but let’s try and make heads and tails of it: It was arund 1953, the Tolleys acting career proved to me mediocre at best so they decided to move to John’s ancestral home in Tennessee and become trappers. Yep, they went to live on his father’s farm, which was on a pleasant rim of green hills overlooking a wooded valley near Mulberry creek. The creek was good for fishing and trapping, and the woods are fine for hunting. The remodeled farm house, homestead of the Tolleys for more than a century, was cozily furnished and equipped with all the conveniences of plumbing and electric heating that was made available at the time.

So they went rural and have the papers know everything about it, of course! It even looks a bit like a reality show where we have two celebrities trying to live a simple life in Mississippi, miles removed from their previous glamorous life in Hollywood. Here is a highly idealized account of June’s life as a trapper’s wife:

June took to country life immediately, John said. She “adopted” the motherless calf born soon after they arrived and she has fed it from a nippled bucket since then. She is learning to recognize mink paths and muskrat slides along the creek banks where traps are set just beneath the surface of the water. She is accustomed to the faintly gory appearance of mink hides turned wrong-side-out and stretched for proper drying. She has seen John bring in 10 minks and 75 muskrats since they came home. That was about the same time that John was walking along the road by the Fayetteville cemetery one afternoon when he saw a possum, chased it under a- car, reached in and grabbed it to bring home. “You didn’t know wild mink was trapped around here?” she asked. And then, echoing her husband, she sounded like an “old hand” at the trapping game. “It’s the best.” June turned a mink tail” back on the board where the skin was drying to show the long “guard hairs.” “Domestic mink don’t have these long hairs,” she said authoritatively. “Only the wild mink. The fur wears so much longer than domestic. And it’s so much prettier.” Everybody up and down the road is a Tolley or a Motlow, and June has her share of invitations to card parties in Lynchburg, Fayetteville and Tullahoma. She and John are going to coach a home talent play a benefit show for one of Tullahoma’s civic clubs this spring. The people who used to go see every “John Compton movie” several times every time it hit a nearby town are making John’s and June’s homecoming “mighty pleasant.”

The press was fawning all over them for a time, but ultimately it seems that their new life didn’t agree with them as nicely as they told the papers, and pffffttttttttt! The point is, the Tennessee experiment failed, the Tolleys returned to New York. Not long after June split from John, as it often happens to reality show couples. They didn’t even do the standard “divorce or not divorce” dance – June was soooo over it and was seen turning up at Armando’s with textile heir/producer Bob Evans. Not surprisingly, shortly after they officially divorced. I guess that June was more than happy to leave her trapper days behind. John retired from movies, became a successful journey as a real estate developer in the Hollywood Hills and Laurel Canyon area in the 1960s, remarried to Angela Hancock in 1964 and died on May 12, 2015.

June needed a new place of her own and roomed with fellow model Gita Hall for the time being. However, a very short while after, June moved out of their apartment in a huff because Gita’s famous beaus (Prince Christian of Hanover and Errol Flynn among others) had gone to her head and made her “overhearing.” Ha ha ha ha ha!

Next up, June was dividing her time between actor Helmut Dantine and Leonard Rogers, the young tobacco tycoon. In mid 1954, she was getting the rush treatment from Lou Stoeckiin, who took her dancing at El Morocco between and after all Copa shows

Then, in late 1954, June got involved with the ultimate Hollywood catch – Frank Sinatra. It seems that their was a passionate relationship, with Frankie first meeting her in a club (probably), wooing her, leaving her, than not being able to forget her, then crooning her and writing her long, sultry letters and giving her long distance phone calls. They alternated between New York and Los Angeles, and she was often mentioned in the papers at Frank’s girl of the moment.

However, the romance was flawed from the very beginning – not only was she just divorced (that definitely didn’t help matters) but Frank was unhappily estranged from Ava Gardner. The fact remains, Ava was his one great love and nobody could quite measure up to her. Plus Frankie was a serial womanizer who dated women by the truckload. He did introduce June to his children, and she was seen with Frankie Jr. at least once.

Frankie had a string of side pieces, but so did June – she was squired by Dick Cowell whenever she was in the East, and probably a few nameless others. Then, after months of intense left and right, Frankie went on a Gloria Vanderbilt kick and seemingly forgot June. They did some minor dating but the affair was over for the most part, and her five minutes of fame were also over.

After she and Frank were went kaput for good, June deserted LA for NY to do TV commercials. “Seventy-four per Cent of the commercials are still done in NY,” she told the papers. In NY, June became a highly highly successful TV commercialist, appearing in a large number of commercials.

Fast forward to 1960, and we have June engaged to Count Klaus Bentheim, a member of an elegant old German family. And no, this wasn’t just a newspaper park – they were seen holding hands during a dinner party at Ruby Foo, and June unveiled an engagement diamond ring. So, it truly was serious and they even had the date penciled in August 20.

While I could find any information about what exactly happened between them, the wedding never took place and my guess is that the German aristocratic in-laws didn’t take it too kindly to their son marrying a divorced working girl who did refrigerator commercials for a living. Snobs maybe? But, it’s just a guess.

June’s next serious beau was the handsome high society dandy, Harry Cushing IV. If you read this blog, you’ll know him from his wild marriage to Georgette Windsor. They dated for a few years, but didn’t get to the altar. It was also noted that June was famous as the latest Jackie Kennedy look-alike, and Jackie Gleason just used her in a White House sketch.

June falls of the newspaper radar from them on, so I can’t say what she was up to after the late 1960s. What we do know is that June married a certain Jacques B. Wilson and continued living in Los Angeles.

Bertha June Wilson died on January 13, 2001, in Los Angeles, California.

Madelyn Darrow

Madelyn Darrow was as cute as a button, with a sunny smile, perfectly coiffed hair, knock-out figure. Al of this combined with an innocent girl-next-door charm made Madelyn a wonderful representation of the 1950s dream girl. The youngest of the three stunning Darrow sisters (Alice, Barbara and Madelyn), all of whom were successful models (and Barbara even a semi successful actress), Madelyn had much going her way, from a supportive family, connection in the showbiz world and natural beauty, but it seems that her heart was always more in rising a family so her movie career is slim indeed. Let’s learn more about her!

EARLY LIFE

Madelyn C. Wittlinger was born on February 21, 1935, in Hollywood, California, to George H. Wittlinger and Alice Alexandria Simpson. She was the youngest of three siblings – her older sisterss were Alice Emeline, born on November 29, 1929, and Barbara, born on November 18, 1931. Her father was a motion picture landscape artist, and her mother a former silent screen actress. Her uncle was actor turned agent, John Darrow.

Since Madelyn was from a showbiz family and born and bred in the heart of movie-land, it’s no wonder that she could not remember any time in her life she didn’t want to be an actress. Also, her older sister Barbara went into movies pretty early (leaving high school to sign a contract), under the moniker of Barbara Darrow, a surname which Madelyn would adopt one day too.

Madelyn effortlessly stepped into the modeling field as soon as she graduated from Hollywood High school. She appeared on the covers of Life, Colliers, Pageant and the Ladies Home Journal among others. This opened her the gate to Hollywood!

CAREER

Slim pickings here! Only three movies and a few minor TV appearances 😦 So, let’s start! Madelyn’s first movie was Guys and Dolls, the classical musical brought on the screen by Joe Mankiewicz and headed by Frank Sinatra,. Jean Simmons, Vivian Blaine and Marlon Brando. Yep, the Marlon Brando, never known for his singing voice but a man with such intense and strong charisma you don’t actually care. This is a great classical musical, with everything going for it – great music, top notch dancing and a enormously talented acting cadre.

Her second movie was The Ten Commandments. Who doesn’t love this movie! It has all the hallmarks of DeMille’s best of the best – larger than life story, first class actors and absolutely lavish sets and costumes. Truly, DeMille had that magical touch and it’s hard to define what he did, but the fact is, he did ti with style and gust deluxe.

Madelyn’s last movie was The Garment Jungle. It’s the least known of the movies she made, but still when you have Mankiewicz and DeMille as your competition, you can be very, very good and still be neglected and overlooked. Actually, this is a solidly made and sharply observed movie about trade unions and factory owners and their dirty tricks and fights. There is a particularly strong cast with Lee J. Cobb in the lead and Robert Loggia, Richard Boone, Wesley Addy and Joseph Wiseman in supporting roles. Gia Scala and Valerie French are okay but not really great in their roles.

That was all from Madelyn!

PRIVATE LIFE

Madelyn’s claim to fame was being the 1958 Rheingold Girl. We have to look back and see just how popular that brand of beer was and just how big of a deal the Rheingold girl was, much like the Miss Universe pageantry was in the 1990s. After winning the title, Madelyn enjoyed a year of glamour and endless photo shoots. As she later told the papers:

“My prize was $50,000,” says Madelyn Darrow, who felt like a billionaire. “They paid for my apartment on Sutton Place. I had a limousine at my disposal. I was so young. I thought that was how all New Yorkers lived.”

Madelyn was described as the outdoor type. She liked tennis, golf and swimming. She told the papers that some day she hopes to marry, but the man she marries will have to be sincere, humble and have a sense of humor.  When asked if it is a bad thing to show some intelligence to a man, Madelyn answered:

Absolutely not. I think it’s wonderful to show any intelligence or knowledge. I think you can overdo anything, however.

And now for her love life! In 1953, a Life magazine article paired her with a local life guard, the very wholesome and handsome Bill Abell, but I can’t tel is it was a newspaper stunt or the real deal, but anyway they didn’t’ last. In 1955, Madelyn was pretty serious about Robert Dix, son of the late Richard Dix. Bob liked pretty girls, and Madelyn was just his type – dark-haired, cute as a button and fresh as a rose. However, they broke up before the year was out. Bob married another beautiful starlet, Janet Lake, in 1956.

Madelyn started 1957 by dating Ronnie Knox, and was later seen around town with oilman Stuart Cramer III (who married Jean Peters and Terry Moore). At some point, she dated arranger Buddy Bregman.  Druing their courtship, there was a tense moment in the Moulin Rouge club when Buddy’s estranged wife Gloria Haley and her date for the night, Jeffrey Hunter, were seated at the same table where Buddy and his date, Madelyn also were slated to sit. Gloria and Jeffrey tactfully shifted to another spot.

But those were fleeting romances. A more permanent beau was Marty Kimmell, the handsome, well-connected, young and wealthy New Yorker who was wed to Gloria DeHaven for a brief time. In the beginning of their relationship, Marty played the field heavily, dating singers Eileen Barton and Jill Corey, and starlet Trudy Wroe. Madelyn herself was seen around town with James Morrow and even dated Ted Kennedy from time to time.

Things changed her Madelyn went to New York for the “Miss Rheingold” contest, and she and Marty became a solid duet while on his home turf. They dated for most of her Miss Rheingold tenure and there were rumors they might even wed someday. For unknown reasons, they broke up in late 1958 or early 1959, but despite this bittersweet ending it seems that it was a really nice and romantic relationship.

In 1959 Madelyn dated Gary Crosby before hooking up with tennis champ Pancho Gonzalez. They met at a tennis club, he gave her lessons and, ultimately, married her! Okay, things didn’t go that smoothly as Pancho was still married at the time, just separated from his wife, Henrietta, his high school lady love, and father of three boys. In September 1959, after a intense relationship of a few months, Pancho went on a tour (which greatly saddened Madelyn, as the papers wrote), and after he came back in 1960, the dice was thrown – it was marriage for Madelyn and Pancho. First he divorced Henrietta – she testified at their divorce hearing that Pancho had telephoned her from New York and told her he wouldn’t return to her after completing the tour. After the divorce was made final, he wed Madelyn in 1958 and they honeymooned in Honolulu. Their twin daughter, Marissa and Christina, were born on April 13, 1961.

Pancho led a peripatetic existence during the early stages of the marriage, traveling from one tournament to the other. Things changed after Madelyn gave birth to the twins. Madelyn had the measles and is being isolated from them. Judging his life style too hectic for a normal, stable family life, Pancho decided to retire, at least for a while, and try and live in one place. The couple’s third daughter, Shauwnna, was born on October 4,  1963. The couple divorced in 1968, remarried in 1970 and divorced in 1971.

Now something about Pancho. He was born Richard Alonzo Gonzales in Los Angeles, on May 9, 1928, one of seven children. He was a self taught player who became one of the tops, a rare occurrence in any sports field but tennis especially.

Here is a very good, concise article about Pancho, taken from Sports JRank web site:

Irascible and prone to raging against his opponents and umpires, Gonzales was nonetheless popular among tennis audiences, and he always drew a crowd. As the reigning champion, he trounced Ken Rosewall, Lew Hoad, and many others. Yet he was unhappy with his touring contracts, which always offered more money to the challenging player than to him, the reigning champion. Gonzales also faced marital troubles; he and Henrietta divorced in 1958. Soon after, he married Madelyn Darrow, with whom he had three daughters.

Gonzales prevailed in the round-robin tours until his contract expired in 1961. After briefly retiring, he returned to lose a humiliating first-round match at the U.S. Professional Grass Court Championships. For the next several years he turned his attention to coaching tennis, leading the U.S. Davis Cup team to the finals against Australia in 1963, and tutoring young American players, including Arthur Ashe.

When tennis “opened” in 1968, allowing amateurs to compete with professional players, 40-year-old Gonzales, no longer in the peak of his career, returned to play the major championships. A presence at all the major tournaments that year, he made a good showing but did not win a title. In what was perhaps his last moment in the spotlight, Gonzales won a grueling 112-game match against a player half his age, Charles Pasarell, in the first round of the 1969 Wimbledon tournament. The score stood at 22-24, 1-6, 16-14, 6-3, 11-9 after the five-hour and twelve-minute match—the longest in Wimbledon history. Gonzales continued playing well into his forties, becoming the oldest man to win a tournament, in Iowa, in 1972. He retired two years later, at age 46, and played senior events until the mid-1980s

After he retired Gonzales joined Ceasers Palace in Las Vegas as a professional coach—a job that he loved, and would keep for nearly two decades. He and Madelyn had married and divorced twice, ending the relationship for good in 1980; between his two marriages to her, he had three others. His sixth and final marriage was to Rita Agassi, sister of the U.S. tennis star Andre Agassi; the couple had a son, Skylar.

We can gather from this information that he was a passionate, driven, fiery individual and probably not the easiest man to live with. Tennis was his first and foremost love, and he had a strong devotion to his children and the large Gonzalez family – it seems his wives were always somewhere down the ladder and many people noted he didn’t treat them quite nicely.  Altough, in public, Madelyn spoke highly of her husband (she often talked how they played tennis together – “Richard is still very sweet about tennis, He’ll play with me anytime I want—real tennis, too, not just hitting the ball.”), who knows what was happening behind the scenes. Actress Diane McBain got involved with Pancho in the late 1960s while he and Madelyn were still married, but in a strange and complicated separation process, and wrote in her autobiography that Madelyn had never taken to Panchos’s side of the family and was not too enthusiastic to spend time with them. Could this be the focal friction point that pushed the couple from marriage, divorce, marriage again and divorce again? it also seems that Madelyn preferred that Gonzalez pursue business opportunities rather than tennis, and we all know that tennis was the number one star in his life.

Overall, we can assume they were very much in love at one point, but they were ultimately incompatible and divorced for good in 1971. Madelyn stayed in California, living a quiet family life with her daughters, and rarely appeared in the papers. Sadly, her youngest daughter Shauwnna died at age twelve in a horseback riding accident.

Madelyn is still alive today and lives in California. As always, I hope she had a happy life!

Fay Morley (Lisa Carroll)

I already  noted a few times in this blog that, after writing about than 200 obscure actresses, I am not that easily impressed. However, Fay Morley really blew me of. What an incredible woman with an incredible life! Singer, songwriter, actress, all around entertainer, toy designer, educator, and the list goes on! Let’s learn more about this unusual, stunning lady!

EARLY LIFE

Fay Blossom Mogul was born in 1930 in Bismarck, North Dakota, to Freda Suzar and Manuel Mogul. Her older brother Marlowe Arnold was born in 1926 in Minnesota. Her father was a department store manager and the family was well off, employing a maid at the time of Fay’s birth.

Fay grew up in Bismarck, North Dakota, and was determined to come an actress very early, and by her teens years was taking part in acting and singing competitions. She was supported by her parents who were also showbiz aficionados – her dad was an amateur singer and her mom wanted to become an actress when she was younger.

The family moved to Minneapolis, Minnesota in the late 1930s, and a few years later to Compton, California, where her father became the owner of a cigar stand. Fay attended Compton High School, and during that time won a singing scholarship and went to New York where she studied with vocal coach Madame Olsa Eisner.

Fay wanted to pursue a career in opera singing, but first she entered UCLA as a music and drama major. She took part in numerous theater shows and slowly but surely gained experience. Ultimately, she never finished her degree because she got an offer to be in pictures and got a gig in the Pasadena playhouse. And this is how her movie career started!

CAREER

Fay appeared in only a few movies and some TV shows, as her main body of work was singing, her acting career was quite slim. her first movie was River of No Return, where she played a dance girl. The movie is considered a classic today and features a very interesting pairing – Marilyn Monroe and Robert Mitchum, and they somehow work. Mitchum was the gritty, no pretense and superficiality, hard-as-nails tough guy, and Marilyn was his in many things his antithesis – she was all blonde hair, excessive publicity pomp and careful, very conscious grooming. However, her innate sexiness and indescribable depth rub well of his minimalist, slightly brutal style. Sadly this is not a particularly good movie, with a lackluster story and only mediocre directing by Otto Preminger.

Her next movie was Battle Cry, a solid but sadly forgotten war film about US marines but told from a highly realistic perspective of life outside the battle-zone. The beginning and middle of the film deal with training, every day life, social norms and shipping of the marines to New Zealand. The last third shows us some action, but this mis-mash of genres only works half well, since most people who prefer drama will not be engaged in this part and anyone after a action war movie will never make it this far. Kudos to Van Helfin, always excellent in his roles, as the leading character.

Up next, Fay had her most meaty role in The Shrike, about a dysfunctional marriage between a stage director and his actress wife.  Fay played a problematic actress in conflict with June Allyson, the leading lady. I for one loved this movie, it’s such a raw, realistic story and leaves you with a bunch of intense feeling after watching (this is what I want my movies to do!). The performances are all first class. I generally dislike June (too squeaky clean, goodie two shoes actress with no intriguing depths), but she is actually really good here,and Jose Ferrer is pure gold!

Next came One Desire, a typical Universal drama of the 1950s – overtly dramatic, shallow of story (about a gambler and a showgirl trying to make it in the wild west) and with impossibly beautiful people suffering in a myriad of highly improbable ways. Granted, I may be too rough on these movies- they are actually often not that bad, just too stagey and artificial, and often the actor make up for it. Here we have Rock Hudson, Ann Baxter and Natalie Wood (whom I absolutely adore!), so there is enough talent to make up for any other fallacies.

Fay got some major newspaper coverage when she appeared in Diane, an overblown historical drama that is all performance and no substance – everything is beautiful but lifeless. The story concerns Diane de Poitiers, the mistress of kind . Diane is played by Lana Turner, and boy is she a mixed bag! While overall a weak actress, she did possess a certain sex appeal and charisma that was hard to ignore and what made her a star (not a real actress, but a star). In some movies it works, in some it does not. Here is works as times but let’s say she’s okay. Roger Moore, as the king, looks too young and lost amid all the lavish sets (and frankly looks ridiculous in period grab). The best role is played by the fabulous Marisa Pavan as the scheming Catherine de Médici. Fay and five other luscious girl splayed Diane’s ladies in waiting.

Except for some TV work, was that was it from Fay!

PRIVATE LIFE

In 1953, Fay was in a very serious car accident that could have ended not only her career but literary her life. After singing at the Hollywood Bowl, Fay was offered an audition with the New York Metropolitan Opera (or Warner Bros, the accounts differ). On the way to the audition, a tragedy happened. Here are some details of the accident:

Fay Morley, 22, actress and singer, and her mother, Frieda Mogel, 47, yesterday announced they’d reached “a very satisfactory settlement” of their $273,000 automobile injury suits, just as a jury was being selected. Their announcement was by their attorneys, Edward and David Pollack, In the courtroom of Superior Judge Clarence L. Kincaid. The suits grew out of injuries received by the two women in a three-car crash, Jan. 3, 1953, near Barstow, in” which four persons were killed and seven Injured. 1 Estate Defendant Defendants In the two suits were Maurice Newman, executor of the estate of Harry Friedman, deceased textiles manufacturer’, and Ralph B, Ellis, construction company head. Friedman and Mrs. Friedman were among the dead from the crash. He was driver of the car in which Miss Morley and her mother were passengers, the suit stated. ..’ , Miss Morley asked $159,000 and her mother, a dress shop owner, $114,000, charging that Friedman s; car, going at, an excessive rate, of speed, as they returned from Las Vegas, failed to take a sharp curve because of construction work with inadequate barriers. The car in which they were riding veered into an east bound lane and struck two cars, they said. Injuries Listed Miss Morley charged that she had suffered a broken pelvis, broken leg, and had lost her voice for seven months. She also missed a New York engagement to play a role in “Fasten Your Seat Belts,” a musical, she averred. Her mother had a crushed chest, punctured left lung and broken ribs, her suit stated. The amount of the settlement was not disclosed.

When she was rushed to the hospital after the accident,the doctors in the emergency room doubted that she would live through the day. “And, one doctor added, “if she does, she’ll never walk or talk again.” As it is obvious from the article, Fay had a prolonged convalescence period and was unable to work during that time, as she spent eight months in the hospital, and the year after learning how to walk and talk all over again.

It was a very difficult time for Fay, but she never lost her zest for life and was unwavering in her faith. She also had external help, as she was surrounded by friends and family who lavished her with loving attention and devotion – Charlie Chaplin’s son used to come and cheer her up.

Her vocal chords, which had been paralyzed, finally healed, and almost two years after the accident, she was ready to continue her interrupted career.  Thankfully, she bounced back emotionally and mentally stronger, and she truly needed the support – her dreams career for an opera career were dashed, and Fay need to make peace with it and had to turn to other venues. She began a career in cabaret and musical theater, landing the part as Carol Channing’s understudy in “Hello Dolly.”

Being an understudy was ultimately too underwhelming for her as Carol was a workhorse that almost never missed a performance, so Fay  left the touring production in San Francisco, hopign to find new revenues at the West Coast. However, a Hello Dolly producer, enraged by her actions, decided to blacklisted her from working on Broadway.

After California she returned to New York, and, unable to find meaningful work in New York, Fay left for England, paying her way by performing on the cruise ship that took her there. There she hosted the BBC’s “Night Ride” for three years and recorded for CBS records. She returned to New York after some time, and since the bad blood ceded a bit, she made a comeback in night club work, one woman shows in the cabaret tradition, and was a hit performer in Las Vegas. She recorded a large number of songs and was considered a reliable, talented, well liked all around performer who could easily get a gig anywhere. During this time she changed her name to Lisa Carroll.

But life had some surprised in store for Fay. In 1993 was involved in another car accident, and like last time, instead of taking it in her stride and lamenting , it transformed her life. Fay was hospitalized and spent more time listening to music, reading and contemplating. And she acquired an unusual new skill – rapping! She would rap for her nurses and they loved it! Fay slowly honed her rapping capabilities, and this opened up a whole new world for her – she was able to record “Rapping with Dr. Wruth” and “Rappin Roofus.” “Rappin Roofus” was a children’s album and became a success. Thus this car accident was also a blessing in disguise for Fay.

Her rapping career pushed Fay into yet another field of expertise – toy manufacturing! She introduced her line of toys including the Hip Hop Hamilton bear, dedicated to the Broadway rap hit Hamilton. She also created a mega successful children’s Christmas album called  “Rappin’ Up Christmas: Homeys 4 the Holidays”.

Now for her romantic life. The vibe I get from Fay was that her singing and creative work was always more important to her than dating, and as far as I can tell, she never married, but had a string of handsome beaus. She was only gal Jeff Hunter has taken out since his divorce from Barbara Rush, but they were old pals and it was more friendly than flirty.

She also dated Billy Loes, Maestro Art Mooneye, composer Mack Gordon and Martin Epstein. It seems she had a special relationship with songwriter Burt Bacharach, as attested by this funny quote:

“It was my first release. They presented the song to me and, for the b-side, anything written by Burt Bacharach would have to be a success, especially since his parents were my dearest friends. I think it sold well. That was a funny situation as [Burt’s parents] were always trying to fix me up with their son between his many marriages, but it never worked out. They wanted me for a daughter-in-law. Every time he got divorced, they would ring me and say, “Now’s the time!” But by then, I’d be off singing somewhere.”

There is tons and tons of information about Fay’s musical career in the papers and some on the net, but I won’t focus on it here, needless to say she seems like an incredible and very vibrant woman!

Fay is still alive today, and, as always, I hope she is living a great life!

Totty Ames

Totty Ames is a incredible, inspiring woman. She lasted more than 20 years as a model, acted sporadically and without much success, but her claim to fame was the choice to become a songstress when she was in her 60s, and succeeding brilliantly! She reinvented herself several times, and always marched on. Let’s learn more about Totty!

EARLY LIFE

Winifred Estelle Totty was born on November 3, 1922, in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, to Flavel Arthur Totty and Annie Belle Carothers, both native Oklahomans. Her father was a fireman, her mother worked as an elevator operator. In 1930, the family were boarders in a Oklahoma City flat with another family, the the Tillerys.

Estelle’s parents divorced in the 1930s, and her mother remarried to Alec Cope, who worked for a power company. Alec, Annie and Estelle lived in Oklahoma City in 1940, and Estelle worked as a cinema cashier to make some pocket change.

Estelle knew that she was destined for a showbiz career and so, after graduating high school she continued working as a cashier for a time, then in 1943 she hopped onto a bus bound for Hollywood. To get some financial footing, she started to work as a cashier at the Egyptian Theater on Hollywood boulevard. In her later years she started that she loved watching the world go by there, on the Boulevard.

Estelle tried to modeling and acting assignments, and pretty soon leading photographers hired her to model clothing, swim wear and lingerie, and pretty soon she signed with the Gene Nelson modeling studios in Hollywood. She became a sought after pin-up and was named, among other titles, Miss Night Fighter of 1943.

This is how she broke into movies quite late, in 1963.

CAREER

Totty was a late bloomer as far as movie roles were concerned – her first role was in 1963, in Wall of Noise, a mediocre drama movie with a solid if uninspired story: Joel Tarrant (Troy Donahue) an ambitious horse trainer working at the Hollywood Race Track. He works for the coarse Matt Rubio (Ralph Meeker) and his wife Laura (Suzanne Pleshette) expresses a special interest in the social life of Joel. Donahue was a pretty boy who never showed any real acting chops, but was adequate in most role she played – on the other hand, both Ralph Meeker and Suzanne Pleshette were very good thespians and many a movie is worth watching just to see them (Meeker especially, I definitely have a soft spot for him!). Another plus is seeing Ty Hardin and Dorothy Provine in supporting roles, and enjoying the very good cinematography by ace cinematographer Lucien Ballard. it’s not an innovative, top of the crop movie, but an okay effort form the early 1960s.

Totty’s minor claim to fame today are her appearances in two Flint movies – Our Man Flint and In Like Flint. Flint is a more energetic and less suave version of James Bond, and as a character tailor made for star James Coburn’s talents. I love Coburn, and, while he was not a handsome man nor a particularly good actor, he was extra charismatic and absolutely unique as far as actor go, so any movie he made is worth watching to see him alone (much like Meeker).

Both Flint movies are in their core spy parody films and they are good as such. The plots are ridiculous, but who’s watching it for the story – there’s Coburn, mod 60s set and clothes design, groovy music, that overall Steve-McQueen-cool atmosphere and a heap or very pretty (and scantly clad) girls.

Totty’ last movie was Skullduggery. Barnaby Rudge, a reviewer on IMDB, perfectly summed up the movie like this: Skullduggery is a strange, strange film based on the novel “Ye Shall Know Them” by Vercors. To unleash criticism at the film feels really unkind, since it is a movie that deals with earnest themes like humanity, and pleas for upright moral standards and tolerance. But in spite of its honorable intentions and its well-meaning tone, Skullduggery simply isn’t a very good film. For me, the main problem is the terribly disjointed narrative which can’t make its mind up how best to convey its message. The first half of the movie is like watching a standard jungle expedition flick of the Tarzan ilk; later it teeters into sci-fi fable; by the end it slips into courtroom melodramatics. The differences in tone between each section of the movie are too great, too jarring, to overlook. They stick out like a sore thumb and remind you constantly that you’re watching a muddled, disorganized movie.

A nice try, but not a successful one unfortunately.

That was it from Totty!

PRIVATE LIFE

Before she ended up in Hollywood, Estelle had a short marriage to a fellow Oklahoman, Harold F. Douglas. The two wed on June 29, 1940, in Canadian, Oklahoma, – she was only 17 and he was barely 21 years old. Douglas was born in 1919 in Oklahoma.

While some of these youthful marriages do work, this one did not and they divorced in about 1942. Douglas remarried to Mary Elizabeth Hinze, went to serve us the Us army in Korea and sadly died there in 1951.

Judging by some later articles, there seems to have been more marriages on Totty’s plate, but I could find only one – to Leonard Herman Barnet. They wed on November 21, 1951, in Los Angeles, California. Leonard was born in 1928 to Harry Barnet and Sarah Turppin, and worked as a suede cutter when he wed Totty. However, the marriage was anything but harmonious, as this article can attest:

Winifred Barnet, 31- year old fashion model, received a decree of divorce yesterday after testifying that six weeks after their marriage her husband degraded her from his beloved to his house’ keeper. Superior Judge Kenneth C. Newell granted her the decree from Leonard Barnet, 26, a suede cutter, to whom she was married here Nov. 21, 1952. “For the first six weeks I was very happy, with him,” said Mrs. Barnet, known professionally as Totty Ames. “Then one day he brought another woman to our home and the two of them announced they were in love.” “Did he say he was leaving you?” asked her attorney, Bentley M. Harris. “Oh, no,” she replied. “He wanted me to continue keeping love affair on the side.” Mrs. Barnet said she nevertheless tried to keep her marriage together but that she and the other woman

Totty worked tirelessly as a model and actress for decades to come, but her true renaissance happened when she was in her 60s.  Namely, at age 65, Totty made her professional singing career performing in leading Los Angeles cabarets. Her career included Executive Assistant to Neil Diamond and co-owner of a designer showroom.  Here is an article from her time as a songstress:

Many wannabe singers can work the microphone, the way the pros did it. But for a lot of reasons the dream got lost in the hustle of trying to make it. Make it she did, as an actress and a model, wending her way through marriages that didn’t work and stepchild-raising she could have done without. She likes to say she got into film the old-fashioned way, by sleeping with the producer, then adds wryly, “I was married to him.” On stage, she’s equally peppery, advising an audience she’s going to sing a mix of old tunes because “I’m 70 years old and I can damned well sing what I want.” After one career ended, someone said to Totty she ought to be doing what she’s always wanted to do, singing on stage, and she said why not? “If not now, I asked myself, when?” She began studying at age 64 and a year and a half later hit the stage at Gardenia. “Isn’t it wonderful,” she says now, “being 70 and doing exactly what I want to be doing?” I was thinking as she walked us through the sleepy gardens of “Deep Purple” how great it would be if we could all find that way around time and reach down to where energy once burned like magnesium and become a Totty Ames. I left the club still hearing music and drove home wrapped in the mist of a memory, thinking about time and a distant rain. “She’s 70?” Cinelll said, stunned by the willowy presence that held the spotlight like she was born in it. “We should all look so good.” Totty could have been In her early 40s, but looks weren’t the only thing. It was the way she sang with strength and youth that Impressed, as though she’d discovered a way around time and had returned from a secret place to baffle the aging. I know 70-ycar-olds who can’t make it across a driveway without a walker and whose voices quaver with the Infirmities of age; those who allow themselves to fall through time to eternity without so much as a struggle, like leaves carried away by an autumn wind. And thon there’s Totty behind a mike looking good and doing “ieep Purple” over a room with candle-lit tables until there isn’t another sound, only the hush of people remembering. What makes it remarkable Is this Is a whole new career for her, one that began In this same club just four years ago. She came to U A. from Oklahoma when she was 21 for the same reason most kids come here, to be a part of the magic. She had $10 and a dream. Totty loved music from the beginning, a little girl grabbing a broom and pretending it was a There’s gotta be 10,000 clubs In LA. that offer entertainment. Sometimes it’s just a guy at a piano looking distracted as he churns out tunes faintly similar to Muzak, other times It’s a vocalist or someone on an alto sax or a small band or magicians or comics or something. Maybe 10,000’s an exaggeration but it seems that way. I get calls from corners of the county where you’d never expect a club to be, saying come and hear the next Blllie Holiday or Billy Crystal or see a nude dancer named Tiffany who’ll knock your aocks off. I don’t go most of the time because I’m not a nightclub writer and haven’t got time to be everywhere, and nudity on stage has yet to knock my socks off. But a credible friend who used to write a column for the Houston Post said I Just had to hear Totty Ames. His name Is David Wcsthelmcr. You know him as the guy who wrote “Von Ryan’s Express” and “Sweet Charlie” and a lot of other good things. He hangs out at a restaurant in Venice called Casablanca along with Dan Seymour, one of the last remaining actors from the movie. Recently, every time I’ve seen David he’s mentioned Totty Ames. The guy’s persistent. We’d be talking about his new book, a memoir of his years in a PCW camp culled “Silting it Out,” unci he’d slip Totty’s name into the conversation. “Wht’s with this Totty?” I finally asked him one night. He said, “She’s a 70 year-old singer who didn’t start singing until she was OB and she’ll knock your socks off.” So the other evening I took Cinelll to a club on the Westside with the unlikely name of Gardenia. It was the day of the big rain In I ..A. and street lights reflected In the wet pavement, casting the night In an amber glow, recalling rainy nights long ago. Magic Is afoot on those kinds of nights when u storm has swept through and stars cmorgc like diamonds on black velvet. Music can carry you back to times and places you haven’t been in a lifetime of forgetting. Totty is like no septuagenarian you’ve ever seen. Up there In a gold lame’ pantsuit, she shines with an aura that defies age.”

Totty never really retired, always active and vital until the last moment.

Totty Ames died on July 10, 2015 in Glendale, California.

Diane Cassidy

Pretty tennis player and part time model, Diane Cassidy was noticed by Mervyn Leroy and hoped to become like his other protegees, Lana Turner and Clark Gable. Sadly, this didn’t’ happen, as Diane only made a few movies (in minor roles). Always socially active and beaued by more than a few millionaires, it wasn’t a surprise when Diane retired to become a socialite.

EARLY LIFE

Diane Mary Cassidy was born on March 8, 1932, in Southampton, Long Island, New York, to Joseph and Mae Cassidy. Her younger sisters were Clare, born in 1935 and Jean, born in 1939. Her father worked as a manager for a private practice.

Diane grew up in Southampton, and started playing tennis when she was a bit more than a toddler – by her teen years, she was known as a local tennis champion. After graduating from high school, she commuted to New York City for work – she began as a Powers model in the city, modeling undies. Her coincident display of gams and curves nailed down her movie contract. How exactly? Well, while she was in Hollywood on vacation, Mervyn LeRoy tapped her on the shoulder at a Hollywood restaurant, and it was the beginning of a new life for Diane. She was literary caught eating hamburger and onions.

LeRoy was famous in Hollywood for having an sharp eye always on the lookout for future stars – his eagle eye spotted Lana Turner in a sweater outfit and Clark Gable acting a small part in a stage play Accordingly, everybody was hoping that Diane was going to be next star to achieve such caliber of fame. Diane sailed through a screen test, was signed to a $200 per week contract as a start and will draw $1700 eventually every week. And so it started!

CAREER

Diane had a credited, but not really meaty role in Invitation, a high quality weepie with Dorothy McGuire playing a sickly rich girl and Van Johnson plays her “bought” husband (of course she doesn’t know this). The plot is pretty obvious from here, with a third women barging in (this time it’s my favorite, Ruth Roman), and overprotective father, played by Louis Calhoun, trying to hush things up. While no masterpiece, it’s a solid, good movie, with  a great performance by Dottie, so a recommendation by all means. I never particularly liked Van, but when he gets serious, he’s much better than playing the nice boys next door he usually did during his MGG years.

Diane than did a string of MGM musical movies (six of them to be precise). Whoa, sound nice doesn’t it? Well, here we go:

The first musical was Skirts Ahoy!, a Esther Williams musical. Unlike many of other movies Esther made for MGM; this one isn’t a blown out spectacle with impressive aquatic sequences, but s more low key, character driven drama sprinkled with singing/dancing numbers. The viewer is left to decide if he likes it or not – but if you want your typical golden age musicals, this movie is not for you. If you want an endearing, low calorie drama with an upbeat message, this might just do the trick. The plot is very bare bones: Three young ladies sign up for some kind of training at a naval base. They fall in love with three different men and try to woo them. While a bit outdated, overall it’s a fine movie. A plus is seeing a whole array of talented performers doing musical numbers – Bilyl Eckstine, DeMarco Sisters, Debbie Reynolds

The second musical was Lovely to Look At. The movie has quite a basic premise: Howard Keel plays an aspiring Broadway producer, trying to get a new musical off the ground. When his fellow impresario, comic Red Skelton, inherits Parisian dress shop they and pal Gower Champion decide they’ll sell up and splash the cash on their stage show – until they catch a look of the tasty co-owners (Kathryn Grayson and Marge Champion). They fall in love and the rest is history. While it’s just a big fat piece of fluff, it’s gorgeous fluff with great dancing, good singing and some stunning fashions (designed by the all time great Adrian). Diane+’s role is small, and it seemed she wasn’t particularly going forward in her career.

Diane’s third musical was Because You’re Mine, a problematic Mario Lanza movie. Problematic! How and why? Well, there is a story how Lanza didn’t want to make the movie and to sabotage it, he gained a massive amount of weight. He also didn’t like his co-star, Broadway alumna Doretta Morrow, and found the story unappealing. You can guess why – they used the same old Lanza character and put him in the army. Extremely unimaginative. Anyway, the final product isn’t as bad as it reputation warrants, but it’s far from Lanza’s best work.

Diane’s fourth movie was Everything I Have Is Yours, a Marge and Gower Chamption movie. Since the Champions were very limited as thespians, their movies have to hide this sad fact and boast their dancing ability to compensate. This movie services it well enough. The story is pretty simple – a professional husband/wife dancing team sound familiar) are having marital problems and so on and so on. Of course, there is a happy end and tons of dancing, so maybe it’s a good movie to watch on a rainy Sunday afternoon.

Diane’s last movie was Million Dollar Mermaid, this being of Esther William’s most famous movies. It’s actually a biopic of Annette Kellerman, the trailblazing female swimmer, but the whole phrase became synonymous with Esther (especially after her biography was called like the movie).  Like any typical Hollywood biopic, most of the plot of Million Dollar Mermaid is fictitious and made more theatrical than it was in reality, but one didn’t watch these movies for the story but for the aqua ballet and the dramatics. Victor Mature plays the husband with an “I can sell anything” charm and it’s interesting seeing him in such a role (and yes, this is pure imagination too, Kellerman’s husband wasn’t a Hollywood promoter).

And that was it from Diane!

PRIVATE LIFE

When Diane came to Hollywood, she was legally under age, so her contract had to be court approved. Sadly, it seems that Diane had some previous debts she had to cover first –  at least so she told Judge Frank S. Swain, and claimed that these debts shrink her $200-a-week salary to $70. The judge ordered the young actress to put 10% of her salary into U.S. Savings Bonds, and gave her a discourse on being thrifty. Very handy advice!

Here is an article about Diane from this period:

For a 19-year-old girl Diane combines the freshness of “sweet sixteen” and the smoldering oomph of the more mature film lovelies. Take the word of such an old hand as producer Mervyn LeRoy that Miss Cassidy is “The Whistle Bait Queen of .Hollywood.” LeRoy discovered the pulsating beauty at a race track, and followed her until she signed on the dotted line. Diane, only recently removed from Southampton, N.Y., told International News Service demurely that “Some cheesecake is awfully sexy and not too nice—but I don’t mind the refined type.”

That statement by the M-6-M beauty should bring on more refined cheesecake, or just more cheesecake by any other name. Miss Cassidy is willowy, and while not threatening the throne of Jane Russell, can do a lot of things to a bathing suit. Diane lifted her two arms expressively to the skies, like a gal in a filmy evening gown looking at the moon: “I think the kind of cheesecake is all right where they take your picture in a filmy, evening gown looking at the moon.” Lest students of the more charming gender of anatomy be discouraged, Miss Cassidy added: “It’s all right to take pictures on the beach, too—if you’re wearing a suit that a girl actually would don to go to the beach.” The light auburn-haired charmer added coyly: “Anyway, why should I object to  cheesecake? Every girl has to do it in Hollywood, unless she is Jane Wyman, a Greer’ Garson or somebody like that.”

“I’m not in love, but I was several times back in Southampton,” says Miss Cassidy. “Right now Hollywood has been such a thrill that I haven’t given romance a thought But, maybe sometime, huh?” Her biggest thrill, she said breathlessly: “The other day Clark Gable said ‘Hello, Baby’.”

In 1949, when she was 17 years old, Diane was pretty serious about wealthy Peter Salm, who she dated for almost a year. Salm was the son of Millicent Rogers and her first husband, Austrian aristocrat and tennis player, Ludwig “Ludi” von Salm-Hoogstraeten. Salm owned a huge property in Diane’ hometown, Southampton, and this is probably how they met.

Anyway, in early 1950, the relationship broke apart and Peter started dating Charlene Wrightmsan. Not the one to be idle, Diane made  Peter a repartee by going out with the young and wealthy Bob Neal. It was a no go, since Peter and Diane didnt’ reconcile, and rarely saw each other from then on. In October 1950, she was seen with Joe Perrin, but they busted before the year was out.

In 1951, Diane was dated by both Huntington Hartford and by Pat Di Cicco. Both liked pretty ladies and both dated them by the shovel load. Pat was involved with the temperamental tennis star Gussie Moran at the same time, and the press was expecting fireworks, but in the end nothing really dramatic happened. She also dated Ted Briskin – Ted planed in from Chicago and spent a few days at his ex, Betty Hutton’s home with the kids, to whom he gave a pair of Shetland ponies. Afterwards he took Diane Cassidy to the Beverly Gourmet and to Ciro’s and from having another date with Gwen Caldwell.

In late 1951, Diane got hooked up with wealthy Chicago paper mill heir, Michael Butler, son of Paul Butler. This proved to be her most endearing, serious relationship – she went to Hollywood, but he kept in touch, and the two youngsters agreed to meet in Acapulco, Mexico, when she caught some free time. They did meet there in February 1952, had a grand time there, and upon their return, were feted as almost engaged and just a step away from matrimony.

In Mid 1952, Diane decided to take a European vacation and sailed to France. While there, she met the love of her life. Thus, In October 1952, married wealthy Venezuelan oil king, Bartholmay Sanchez. Fully named Bartholme Sanchez Pernia, he was born on October 12, 1913, in Venezuela.

The couple settled jointly in New York (with a Park Avenue address) and Venezuela, and had two children, a son, Bartholome Ricardo, born in 1953, and a daughter, Diana, born in about 1955. They traveled around quite a bit and lived the jet set life.

There was not a whole lot I could find about the Sanchez family, and it seems the most famous person in the family was his nephew, Bartus Bartolomes, who became a noted artist. Here is a bit about him:

The family of Bartus owned the “Sanchez Pernia Estate”, one of the largest coffee plantations in the country covering more than 90,000 hectares from 1898 up to 1960’s. However, the newly emerging governments from the sixties, riding the waves and riches of a new oil boom, began to expropriate the land and reduced the agricultural production of coffee and other crops to a minimum.

In the expropriated lands, the government promoted and built the Uribante Caparo Hydroelectric Dam, a project that became detrimental to the Eco-systems of three Venezuelan states: Táchira, Mérida and Barinas, decreasing the productivity of the traditionally cultivated areas, affecting the rivers, local plants and bird migrations because among other things, this area was a pathway or transit corridor used by birds who migrated from Canada to Argentina and vice verse.

These expropriations and the negative effect they had on the environment he grew up in, affected the sensitivity of Bartus. He increasingly devoted his creativity to establishing links between art and water, and he promoted some cultural events that highlight the consequences of human intervention on the environment such as environmental pollution and global warming. Bartus considers the natural environment a legacy that must be protected, and water is the link that keeps all natural environments healthy one way or another.

The Sanchez settled in West Palm Beach in the end. Bartholome died at some point (couldn’t find the exact date of death).

Diane Cassidy Sanchez is still alive today and lives in West Palm, Beach, Florida.

 

Lucille Barkley

Lucille Barkley was a pretty girl who came to Hollywood with great expectations, and, unlike many starlets, was not without some background – she was a semi-seasoned actress who did some theater and was even educated in the acting arts. Against all odds, she did manage to nab roles in several high-profile movies and was a highly publicized personality in Hollywood for a few months. However, her career ultimately went nowhere and she retired after 30 something odd films and TV appearances. All in all , not a bad record for a place where most girls stay for a year or two (if the are lucky!)

EARLY LIFE

Lucy Oshinski was born on November 3, 1924, in Ranshaw, Pennsylvania to Florian and Verna Oshinski. She was one of nine children – her siblings were out of five sisters and three brothers, namely, from elder to younger: Stella, Anette “Tessie”, Helen, Eleanore, Henry, Thomas, Evelyn and Donald.  Her father worked in the coal mining industry.

Lucy spent her childhood years in Ranshaw, which was a typical Pennsylvania coal town. She attended St. Anthony’s Elementary School, and after completing her freshman year in Coal Township High School, Lucille moved with her parents to Rochester, N. Y., where she graduated from Benjamin Franklin High School.

Lucille got her start in show business with the Rochester Community Players with whom she had roles in “My Sister Eileen” and “Arsenic and Old Lace”. She also was a model far Eastman Kodak Company and took prizes in a number of beauty contests before going to New York. After studying a few semesters at the American Academy of Dramatic Art, with the goal of becoming a Hollywood film star. She also did modeling for the prestigious Conover agency and a little dramatics for a couple of years.

While in New York, An agent had discovered her, and whisked her of to Los Angeles. Lucy expected she’d get a contract with 20th Century possibly a lush role in “Forever Amber.” After several weeks of tests, it didn’t work out that way. Lucy was out of work and going nowhere fast.

The agent planned to have her tested but one afternoon Lucille walked Into the Beverly-Wiltshire hotel and was accosted by a stranger, who said: “You should be in the movies.” Yep, he was a Paramount talent scout, he approached her and asked if the “pretty girl” would be interested in a movie career. The “pretty girl” was definitely interested, the studio executives were impressed, and she signed a contract without ever having made a screen test.

CAREER

Lucille started her career as one of the many, many girls featured in the Variety Girl, and continued her array of uncredited performance with Where There’s Life, a mid-tier Bob Hope movie with Bob playing his usual self (this time, a hapless American son of an Eastern European monarch wounded in an assassination attempt becomes a target for a terrorist organization). Then came another Hope vehicle, Road to Rio (at least this one is a classic). This was just the first of several classic that Lucy was to grace, back to back.

Lucille had the luck to appear in one of the bets thrillers ever made, The Big Clock. Ray Milland plays a charming but caddish man who become s a pawn in a deadly game all cooked up by Charles Loughton’s impeccably-played, deliciously devious newspaper tycoon. Then Lucy had a modest but visible role in another classic A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court, this time with Bing Crosby.

Lucille appeared in an unusual MGM film, the hard-boiled noir Scene of the Crime. We have Van Johnson, the perpetually sunny golden boy of the studio, playing a disillusioned, bitter cop who gets smacked left and right but never gives up. While the story is your typical noir staple, the script is witty and the performances are surprisingly good. Of special note is Gloria de Haven, playing  a femme fatale and begin very good at it (unlike her usually happy-go-lucky musical roles).

Lucy than appeared in two mediocre crime movies. The first one was Trapped (not a bad movie overall but made a shoestring budget,and as a plus, you can see Barbara Payton is one of her all to few movie roles! While not a top thespian, she sure had that something and could set the screen aflame!) and The Great Plane Robbery (which is completely forgotten today!)

Lucille then appeared in Diana Lynn cuteness-abound movie aptly called Peggy (they so rarely make movies like that today!), and the exotic escapist fare, The Desert Hawk (with Yvonne De Carlo, who acted in so many such movies I get confused often).  Lucy continued appearing in lightweight movies with The Milkman , where Donald O’Connor and Jimmy Durante star as ambitious milkman and his mentor.  O’Connor is a good physical comedy actor, and his movies work at least on that level. Next stop – Frenchie, a low-calorie western where Shelley Winters plays a saloon queen returning to her hometown of Bottleneck to find the vagrants who killed her father 15 years earlier. It’s loosely based on Destry Rides again, and features a strong female lead, played by the brassy Shelley Winters – more than enough reasons to watch the movie!

In 1951,m Lucille reached the peak of her career with Bedtime for Bonzo, where she actually had a credited, and quite meaty part. Yep, she was the “wrong woman” compared to Diana Lynn’s right woman, but still, it was major progress for her career. The movie itself, which was wildly successful is a thin but amusing comedy, with Ronald Regana playing a scientists who tries to prove that people are a product of their upbringing not genetics, with a help of a very lively chimp named Bonzo. Guess the rest!

She continued in uncredited parts in Up Front, a comedy based on the famed W.W.II cartoons: Lowbrow G.I.s Willie and Joe , and Francis Goes to the Races, one of the Francis series of movies. Lucille finally got a larger role in The Fat Man, a Damon Rumyon movie where the eponymous fat detective tries to solve a dentists’ murder.

Lucille than appeared in a string of low-budget movies – western Arizona Manhunt (where she played one of the leading roles but the leading female role went to a 13-year-old girl!), the adventure The Golden Horde (actually a pretty interesting movie with Ann Blyth and David Farrar fighting against Ghengis Khan – they are a great acting combo!),  Flight to Mars (an early science fiction movies), and the laughable Prisoners of the Casbah,with the always hard-boiled Gloria Grahame playing a demure princess (can’t even imagine this!). The only exception to the low-budget rule was the superb Otto Preminger film noir, Angel Face, with Robert Mitchum and Jean Simmons, where Lucille plays a waitress.

Aware that her movie career left much to be desired, Lucille turned to TV, doing quite a bit of TV shows. Her television engagements have given her a role in a Fireside Theater production, a commercial spot on Groucho Marx‘s quiz show, some Boston Blackie bits and an appearance on Walter Winchell‘s TV program, among others.

Lucille made only two tow more movies before retirement: the first was The Other Woman, an above average Hugo Haas movie. Like all of Haas’s work, it’s a low-budget affair and more than  with surprising flashes of genius and some interesting dialogue thrown in. Not for everybody’s taste, but very good nonetheless. The bad, oversexualized gal, a staple in all of Haas’ movies, here was played by Cleo Moore.  

Lucille’s last movie was Women’s Prison, a gritty drama set in a woman’s prison where the head superintendent played by the superb Ida Lupino is the most dangerous person inside the prison walls. Featuring a ton of good actresses (Jan Sterling, Cleo Moore, Phyllis Thaxter…), it’s a rare all-woman-cast movie and it’s a good one. While no A class classic, it’s well made, swift, with good pacing and with great acting performances.

And that’s it from Lucille!

PRIVATE LIFE

When she first came to Hollywood, her press agent tried to boast her PR standing by having Lucille claim that all Hollywood men are wolves. According to the papers, Lucy made a test for Forever Amber, but blushes so intensely that she was impossible to photograph normally – they had to wait for the blushes to subside in time. The reporters teased her about it, but when reporter ran I into her again she said “I may be blushing, But you should  see’ the gown in which I am going to wear!” Positive thinking Lucy! Here is another article from that period:

Luscious Lucille Barkley who once rated all Hollywood man as wolves, doesn’t have time any more to be beset by them. She’s too busy with her dramatic lessons, now that Paramount has signed her to it very nice contract. ’1 hardly have a minute to myself,” Lucille said when your reporter ran into her on the set of •‘Variety Girl.” “Not even tune for those wolves you used to tall: about?” your reporter persisted, “Oh, no”, replied the brunette beauty from Rochester, N. Y “I am too busy now!”

As for her love life, Lucille Barkley and Tony Curtis were an item for some time in the early 1950s. After the broke up, she was seen jitter-bugging like mad with Joan Davis’s ex-fiance, Danny Ellman. This also didn’t last long.

In 1950, she nearly drowned at. Lake Arrowhead while water skiing. A pullmotor saved her just in time.

Lucille first really serious romance in Hollywood was with manufacturer Lester Deutsch. They dated for almost a year, but broke up for  unspecified reasons. She also had a tempestuous, on off relationship with Edmond Herrscher, who was known as the romanfickle Nobhillionaire among the newspaper set. He was the man who ho turned The 20th Century Fox movie studio backlot into the futuristic Century City entertainment and business complex, and who was quite a bit older than Lucille.

Up next was Pete Rugulo, who used to date Betty Hutton, but that too didn’t last too long. Not long after came Brad Dexter, who was later married to Peggy Lee for 10 days (or something like this). At some point, Lucille dated Paul Ellis. There was a really CONFUSING situation observed at Ciro’s when Martha Martin Ellis ringsided with Roger Valmy at the next table ‘ sat her ex, Paul, with Lucille and just adjacent Paul’s recent steady date, Joy Windsor, with Stanley Richardson. Imagine the great table talk!

Around this time, Lucille discovered a thief stole her make-up case and Abbott and Costello TV film wardrobe from her car while she was having a cup of coffee at Schwab’s. What a great booty for the robbers, eh?

Lucy falls of the newspaper radar in the late 1950s, marrying and opting for a quiet family life. She married a Mr. Burgener, moved with him to San Diego, and had a daughter, Lisa C., born on July 30, 1960. Lucy and Burgener divorced at some point, and she moved back to Rochester, where most of her family was still living.

Lucille Oshinski Burgener died on August 11, 1998, in Rochester, New York. (note: her IMDB has a wrong date of death!)