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.
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!
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!
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!