Gloria Faythe was a dancer who became a chorus girl who tried ot become an actress but failed. However, unlike many other girls in a similar position, she turned to behind the camera parts of movie making, carving a successful career as a stand-in and script girl before retiring for good to raise a family.
Gloria Kathryn Cook was born on September 16, 1914, in Los Angeles, California to Byers Logan Cook and Florence L. Mann Heck. Her mother was married to a Mr. Hech before she wed Gloria’s father. Gloria’s older half-brother (maternal) Randolph Heck was born in 1909, and her father was a railroad dispatcher by trade. Gloria also allegedly had a sister, but I couldn’t find any information about her.
Gloria grew up in Los Angeles (Hollywood to be more precise), and was involved in showbiz from her early years. She began dancing when she was barely four years old. Lina Basquette, stepdaughter of famous ballet master Ernest Belcher, gave her some early dancing lessons. Gloria wanted to break into movies, her mother obviously approved of her wish. At the age of five, Gloria made her debut as a golden curled Girl in Eddie Lyons and Lee Moran comedies at Universal. Her mother then returned her to school, but the limelight was never far from Gloria’s mind.
She started her career in earnest for so when she was 13. The casting director would never take her in, if they found out she was only 13, so she had to swear then she was 18 and her career thus started. Luckily, Gloria attended high school in parallel and graduated as normal.
Gloria’s early credits are lost to history, alas, so we don’t know where and how she acted as a child. Her first adult credit comes in 1930, with The Vagabond King, the less known version of the Francois Villon story, with Jeannette Macdonald and Dennis King. It’s an early talkie era musical, nothing too special about it, yet, the costumes and the art direction are spot on. Dennis King as Villon was overshadowed by Ronald Colman playing the same role 8 years later, but the guy was a Broadway staple and it shows – he has the charisma to carry leading roles. Too bad he never made it in movies! Gloria than appeared in Just Imagine, an idiotic SF that I won’t waste any words describing again (so many chorus girls in it, and so many girls I profiled acted in it! Bu hu hu).
Gloria took a Hollywood hiatus, and appeared again in movies in 1933, with Gold Diggers of 1933, and here she got most newspaper coverage. She was the only gold digger to have been born in Hollywood, surprise, surprise! Gloria then appeared in two more minor musicals – It’s Great to Be Alive, which has a supremely stupid story, lackluster production values and mediocre cast (exceptions – Gloria Stuart), but overall a time waster, and Dames, more of the same old same old (so so music, no plot, plenty of pretty girls).
Two years later, Gloria was again a chorus girl in Stage Struck, a sub par Dick Powell/Joan Blondell musical. The best part is that Joan isn’t even the female lead, but the proper female lead, Jeanne Madden, is so forgettable that Joan takes the cake for sure. Overall, not recommended.
Gloria made her last movie appearance in Hotel Berlin in 1945, almost 10 years after Stage struck. It’s a low budget version of Grand hotel, just set during WW2. It is a movie tightly plotted, well-directed, the actors are good and the pacing is spot on. Overall, for a B-level effort, it’s more than decent.
And that was it from Gloria!
Gloria was a natural blonde whose hair turned dark as she grew older. She has hazel eyes. She was five feet four and weighed 117 pounds during her salad days. Gloria was known around Hollywood as an Eleanor Powell lookalike (there is only minimal resemblance IMHO). Gloria also gave a beauty hint to the readers:
Keep a twinkle in your eyes and the world will have a twinkle in its eyes for you. Rest the eyes frequently during the day, if only for a moment at a time.
The mid 1930s were glorious years for Gloria. For four years, she was one of Busby Berkeley’s right hand dance gals and every thing was fine and dandy. However, one day everything changed. Gloria was a passionate equestrian and rode almost daily. She and her friends were involved in a horse race. Her horse was leading by good margin when Gloria turned to chide her rivals. The horse lost his balance and fell down an embankment, throwing Gloria clear. She result was a five-inch skull fracture and compound concussions. She was rushed to the hospital, treated by great specialists, and given no chance to regain consciousness much less to live. Long hours of strenuous exercise in dancing came to her rescue, however, and she was finally on the mend. Here is a short article about her accident:
Gloria Faythe. 19-year, old film actress, was in a serious condition today after falling from a horse. She was riding with another actress, Jean Madden, yesterday when her mount stumbled and threw her. She was unconscious for several hours. At the Hollywood hospital, it was reported she suffered possible internal injuries and concussion of the brain.
She was injured so badly she suffered from double vision for weeks, but she overcame that, too. She was out of the hospital in two weeks and a month later she was back at work. “You’ll never dance professionally again” the doctors said, “The concussions would react fatally if you did.” Quietly, after six months, she began practicing easy dance routines. At first the studio would not take the responsibility for letting her dance, but she defied the odds. Never the one to completely drop of her dancing ways, after some time Gloria started with the simpler routines and worked by easy stages to the more difficult ones.
One of the problems that Gloria now had was unemployment. Like hundreds of other girls that came to Hollywood, there was lack of work. There aren’t as many dancing pictures as there used to be, and she couldn’t’ dance as much as before. However, a shift in work, from a chorus girl to something else, led her to new professional lanes, and she became a stand-in. Here is a short article about Gloria’s work as a stand in:
Studio commission has designated Gloria Faythe’s job is “standing in” for stars, but one day she had another role. This was while Miss Sheila Bromley rehearsed dialogue for a scene of “West of Shanghai” with Boris Karloff, and cameramen meanwhile focused on the stand-in and her mule. The mule began “acting up” a little, and Gloria quieted him. “Good Girl” approved Director John Farrow. “Your fall certainly didn’t make you afraid of four-footed beasts of burden, did it?” Which was the first time Sheila, new to the lot, had heard that her stand-in was the former chorus girl who had been so badly injured in a fall from a horse four mouths before. ‘She immediately insisted on doing her own ‘standing in,’ despite the fact that Gloria told her she’d been riding bridle-paths again every weekend and wasn’t at all afraid! Miss Faythe’s life had been given up by doctors at one time following her accident, in which she sustained a five-inch skull fracture. But she rallied, and today is as well as ever, except that she is not allowed to go back to her former profession of dancing for another year. She was a head chorus girls and teacher for new routines.
Gloria married her first husband, William Wilson Catherwood, in 1937, in Yuma, Arizona. They met after her horse riding accident.
Catherwood was born Oct. 30. 1910, in Covina to Matilda Meyer Catherwood and William Wilson Catherwood Sr. Mr. Catherwood was a graduate of Riverside College and USC Medical School with a doctorate in Osteopathic Medicine. Later he was a physician and had practiced in Riverside, Lake Tahoe and Palm Springs for many years. He was awarded Doctorate of Medicine from University of California He was a medical evangelist, making many trips to Mexico providing medical treatment and supplies. He was the vice president of the Latin American Missionary Challenge and involved in gospel programming via six radio stations in Central America.
The couple divorced in 1939, after a short marriage. Catherwood remarried, had at least two children (Susan and Christian), and died on December 18, 1996, in Los Angeles.
Gloria marched on. From a stand in, she became a successful script girl and was heavily involved in behind the scenes aspect of movie making. A short snippet into her professional life:
Glamour, a typical Hollywood commodity, apparently extends even to the lesser satellites of the film world, judging from the appearance of Gloria Fayth. Gloria is a script girl at Warner Brothers. She is constructed along symmetrical lines, has blue-green eyes, raven hair and a pert little nose. Many visitors on the lot mistake her for an oomph girl
And yet Gloria does not get the credit she deserves. When a scene is filmed, she takes care of many things. Among other things she itemized the dialogue that was being spoken, who opened the door of the automobile, who closed it. the progression in which the group entered the house and the manner in which the various costumes were being worn. She also noted the position of the car, the footprints in the gravel and the relative positions of the actors to one another. Former Dancer Gloria has been doing this sort of thing for two years now. Before that she was a professional screen, dancer and songstress and an assistant to Busby Berkeley. Hollywood’s mogul of the musical. She decided to quit the song-and-dance business for the work of a script girl since she found it more constructive and worthwhile. Her experience in films helped her get the job.
Another funny snippet, this time with Humphrey Bogart!
A Warner script girl, Gloria Fayth, is out authority. “Bogart always wears loud, multicolored socks,” Gloria said. “And they suddenly show during a serious scene, it sometimes throws members of the cast into a howl.” Gloria said she always has to ask Bogart to change socks before a real serious scene. “He changes, too, but reluctantly,” Gloria said
Unfortunately, Gloria drops from the newspaper radar in the 1950s, as she went into semi-retirement. She married for a second time, to Thomas H. Dudley, on July 21, 1956, in Las Vegas, Nevada. Dudley was born in 1912 in Kentucky, lived for a time in Lafayette, Indiana, before moving to California. An aeronautical engineer by trade, Thomas was married once before to Frances F. Dudley in the 1930s and 1940s, but they were divorced by 1950.
Their daughter Sara G., nicknamed Gigi, was born on May 8, 1958. The family lived happily in Santa Clara, California, until Thomas’ premature death on July 12, 1968.
I have no idea what happened to Gloria, indeed if she is still alive today. As always, I hope she had a good life.