Meg Myles

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Meg Myles was born at the right time and place to crave her way in the bombshell niche – it was the 1950s, and bombshells were queens of movies, often imitating Marilyn Monroe, playing idiotic roles and hoping for the best. Meg Myles, although unknown today, actually made quite a career for herself – she has a slim bur decent filmography and was a very popular lounge singer for a time. She got her biggest due on television, playing in several very famous shows.

EARLY LIFE:

Billy Jean Jones was born on November 14, 1934, in Seattle, Washington, to William T. Jones and Jeanette Jones. Billy was the second of five children – her older brother, Bennie, was born in 1932, and her younger siblings were Larry, born in 1935, Muriel, born in 1937, and Diana, born in 1939. In 1940, the family lived in Orting, Washington.

Her father was born in Canada (by the time she was born he was a naturalized citizen of the US) and worked as a engineer in the lumber industry. Her mother was a native Washingtonian and a housewife.

Meg was a thin child, nicknamed Jelly Bean Bones. In the 1940s, the family moved to Texas and some time later to Tracy, California. Meg reached adulthood in California, and attended College of Pacific for two and a half years. She was in a school musical when an agent noticed her and suggested she try Hollywood.

Meg liked the idea very much and went to Hollywood to try her luck in the pictures. Later she would regret leaving the college, as she could have gotten a scholarship at the Neighborhood playhouse in New York.

Meg had little luck with her career when she came to Tinsel Town. In late 1954, while sitting in one of the restaurants in Los Angeles, she decided to vocalize while eating. She impressed the restaurant owner so much that he hired her as a singer. In early 1955 she signed with Red Doff, manager to stars like Mickey Rooney and Liberace

Meg was discovered for the movies when two songwriters notice her in the restaurant and give her the chance to record two songs for their upcoming movie. So she got a singing segment in “The Phoneix City Story”. Her career started in earnest.

CAREER:

Meg mostly worked in TV, and I’ll just brielfy outline the work, asd thetre is not much to write about there (sadly, they are not movies 😦 ). Megh had episodic roles in series like Search for TomorrowThe Guiding Light The DuPont Show of the WeekThe Trials of O’Brien N.Y.P.D.  Where the Heart IsABC Afterschool Specials

Sonme of them are completely forgotten today, but some are classic well worth remebering, and give Meg a minor cult status amogn the TV series fan crowd. Since I neither know nor am interested in classic TV series, I’ll just let it slide.

MegMyles4Meg also made her share of movies (now this is more interesting!). Her first one was Dragnet the movie, from 1954. It’s a tyapical Dragnet movie, a vehicle for Jack Webb as Lt Joe Friday and his band of merry lawsters fighting against crime (sounds so cliche, right?). Well since I can’t say I ever understood the whole story behind Dragnet and it’s massive popularity in the 1950s and 1960s, there is nothing really substantial I can say about the movie either. Meg had a minor role and nobody noticed her anyway.

New York Confidential is one of the best movies Meg appeared in. The eternal story of achieving success and the American dream through crime and corruption is something seen in Hollywood on a frequent basis, but the trick is not so much how the story goes but how to show it as a plausible one. The movie hits the spot with well written, beliveable characters, played perfectly by a group of top notch performers who never became massive stars: Broderick Crawford, Richard Conte, Anne Bancroft and Marilyn Maxwell.

The Phenix City Story followed very much the same trend as New York Confidental, dealing with corruptuion and high places, but this time the storm center are not the characters who cause corruption, but rather the people who fight against it. It should be alesson to all low budget movies to show how little money can go a long way if you have a good story and solid actors.

Calypso Heat Wave is a C movie, but it works when you sum it all. It was deftly directed and the cinematography is more than good. While the story is nothing to write about, watching Maya Angelou and Joel Grey on the screen, years before they came into their own, is mesmerising.

MegMyles5Meg then took a hiatus from movies and TV, but when she came back, it was a true grand style. Satan in High Heels is Meg’s ticket to fame and fortune. While femme fatales in film noir were allurign sirens who led men to death, they were often subtle and moved quietly, like panthers, to snatch their prey. Meg’s character, on the other hand, is an absolute bitch, with no subtetly, bordering on being a sociopath. The story is simple enough. Meg plays a woman who  ruthlessly uses men and women alike to rise from Midwest carnival burlesque queen to Manhattan jazz club diva. She’s dangerous, sexy as hell and wil eat your heart out if she wishes to. Also featuring is the busty Sabrina, and she and Meg and a pair to drool after.

A Lovely Way to Die is a average crime movie romance with Kirk Douglas and Sylvia Koscina. While it does have that cool 1960s vibe, it’s never gets off the ground. The story is uninspired and the acting mediocre.

Coogan’s Bluff is an early Clint Eastwood movie, a Dirty Harry before Dirty Harry. Let’s make one thing clear: this one is a fun movie, not to be taken too seriously. Anybody looking for a brooding, deep drama or even a action movie with a message should just back away. For what is designs to be, it’s more than decent. Eastwood is good, in his limited acting ability, as the tough as nails police detective. Watch out for old movie veterans, Lee J. Cobb and Tom Tully, in the best roles of the movie.

The Anderson Tapes is a above average caper movie. Like I already said, expect nothing more and you’ll be rewarded with a fine viewing experience. It’s always a joy to see Sean Connery on the screen – at least to me it is. While he was never a genuien talent and top notch actor, his charisma and “manly man” attitude pulled his through many, many roles. Watch out for a really good supporting roster of actors – Ralph Meeker, Martin Balsam, Christopher Walken, Val Avery and more.

Touched is a slow moving drama about two pental hospital patients who want to build a normal life for themselves. it has the potential to become a hard hitting drama, it never does, but it’s decent in its own way. Ned Beatty gives his usual performance, and the leading lady, Kathleen Beller, sadly never got any semblance of fame. Meg plays Kathleen’s mother.

PRIVATE LIFE:

In February 1956, she was dating Oleg Cassini, by then divorced from Gene Tierney. it did not last long. By June of the same year, she had a forest fire romance with broker Buddy Avery (but that too did not last).

In 1957, she was involved with Sammy Davis Jr., but she was just one of the few girls he dated in parallel. He would go on to date songstress Joan Stewart and marry May Britt. The same year she dated another industry bigwig, Bing Crosby. Sadly, that too lead nowhere: he married Kathryn Grant not long after. In July, she briefly dated Lary Amato of the Rover Boys quartet. He was followed by Marty Brill and Philadelphia business man, Mac Lerner. Meg lost a lot of weight that year, but it was due to stomach problems and not dieting,and we can assume the stress did her no good.

MegMyles3In 1958, like many, many girls in Hollywood and New York, she dated lothario Bob Evans. BY September she moved on to Kem Dibbs, a former flame of Lana Turner. At he same time, she feuded over a nightclub comic with starlet Bobbie Byrnes (don’t you just dislike it when two women feud over the same man? I know the heart had its reasons and it’s not easy to defy emotion, but girl,if you are really suck on him, let the guy choose and be over with it!). Next in line was singer Tony Foster, but he left her for a society girl by October.

Meg raised some tabloid dust when she got into another feud, with another woman . This time it was model Cynthia Brooks, and the object of their fight was the owner of the Black Orchid club in Chicago, Bill Dougherty. It was a typical hair pulling affair, but after some push and pull, Cynthia won by marrying the guy. But Meg did not learn her lesson yet. Just a few short weeks later, she and starlet Nancy Valentine were enamored of the same nightclub owner. See a pattern here?

In March 1960 she was romancing Bob O’Shea, the ex husband of Martha Raye. O’Shea was a former cop from Westport, Masschusets. By June, however, she was seen with Vic Damone and a bit later with Dick Hauff, a well known playboy club owner, once a steady of Zsa Zsa Gabor. By September, she and O’Shea found each other again, and were all lovely dovely.

It did not last, long, and she was seen with Franchot Tone. What to say, I adore Franchot, but boy, did he like to play the filed after his divorce from Jean Wallace and Joan Crawford! In 1961, she fell down the stairs and hurts her leg, so she had to open on crutches at the Living Room. Earl Wilson noted that “But with a dress low cut enough, you didn’t notice the crutches. Franchot Tone, who recently had an operation, phoned her from the hospital to wish her well.” Aww, how sweet 🙂

Meg got further point on the tabloid notoriety table when she opened in the Living Room in New York and there was a big bustle at the opening (with brawling and punching and you know). She claimed later that she got so many offers, including one to appear on Broadway in a Garson Kanin play. Yep folks, publicity is king!

MegMyles6Meg and Franchot busted up by August after dating for more than six months (a kind of a record for that place and that time). But the men kept coming steadily. She got a ticket from Robert Goulet to see him in his newest hit play, Camelot. In September she was hospitalized for a back ailment, but vowed to get out on time to date producer Hal Prince. That lasted for two months, ad then she switched to jockey Willie Hartack.

In 1962, Meg was seriously dating Eddie Samuels, the accompanist to Eddie Fisher. She even announced their engagement, but later claimed it was a gag. How funny! After the bust up, she often went to Long Island to meet with Peter Duchin. It was a nice summer romance, and by September Meg had moved on to George Montgomery, the handsome actor and former husband of Dinah Shore.

Meg married TV producer Bob Duncan in 1965. They had a one day honeymoon, then Duncan left for Europe on business (without Meg). They divorced in 1982 after Duncan told Meg he wanted his freedom. Not long after she went back to the dating game, and told a newspaper reporter:  “I found women had become so aggressive that men expect to be attacked by the women they go out with. And if you don’t attack them, the men say, ‘Where have you been, what is your problem? They they attack you”

In 2010, a article about Meg appeared on the internet. You can read the whole article on this link, but to sum is up:

In the 1950s, Meg Myles was a pinup girl, actress and singer. Today, she’s better known as the Upper West Side’s bird healer.

Ms. Myles, 77 years old, has tended to pigeons, kestrels, jays, finches, robins, ducks, song birds, cardinals and a goose.

Neighbors and even New York City’s animal-care agency bring her birds. Animal Care & Control estimated that Ms. Myles has rescued about 200 since 2006. “She provides a great outlet for injured pigeons because they require hand care,” said Animal Care & Control spokesman Richard Gentles.

And some more:

The bird-care chapter of her life started on a whim about 20 years ago. It was raining, and she saw a pigeon on a doorstep. “I just picked him up and put him under the tree,” she recalls. “I told him I’d check on him the next day and if he was still there, I’d take care of him.”

The next morning, she returned to her charge. It was being held by another girl. “I took it out of her hands, I told her that’s my bird, and walked away,” she says. She took the bird to her apartment. Eventually, he left, and another one was attracted to her window sill. He brought in a mate, they became a family-and the super grew angry.

MegMyles2Through a friend, she heard of Don Rubin, a construction worker who rehabbed wild animals in New Rochelle. She brought him the pigeons. Entranced with his outdoor setup, she learned the principles and methods of rehabbing, including feeding babies with a syringe, softening dry dog food for pigeons and how to hold birds.

“After that, it just kind of happened and grew,” she says. Since then, she has cared for injured city birds. Once a week, Mr. Rubin would take the bird to a vet in Yonkers, who would then release them into an aviary.

Ms. Myles’s apartment is decked out in bird-shaped everything: a set of shelves is home to miniatures such as a bright rooster, and a tiny feathered cardinal replica perches on a plant. Chirps can be heard from the bathroom, where Ms. Myles keeps her birds. At one point recently, she had 14. She feeds and cleans them every day.

Last Thursday, JoAnne Asher, a therapist, found a pigeon hobbling in a gutter. She brought it to Ms. Myles in a shopping bag. The diagnosis? Perhaps it was hit by a car, the healer says, examining burned feathers.

“I have dreams of winning the lottery and fixing her up in this brand-new facility,” Ms. Asher says.

How interesting! Meg sure led an unusual life!

Meg lives in New York City today.

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Leila Ernst

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After Whitney Bourne, we have an another debutante who wanted more of life than fancy tea parties and golf. Leila Ernst was a Boston blue blood who gained ever lasting recognition on Broadway with her role in the original production or Pal Joey, but did not continue her winning row, which ended after just one movie , in Hollywood.

EARLY LIFE:

Laila Semple Ernst was born on July 28, 1922/1920, in Joffrey, New Hampshire, to Frederick Steinmann Ernst and Roberta D. Ernst. Her father, a WW1 veteran, served as a head master at a prestigious all boys school in the city. They moved to Salem, Massachusetts right after 1923 started. Her younger brother Frederick Jr. was born there a year later, in 1924. The family moved to Wellesley, Norfolk, Massachusetts in the late 1920s, and were prominent in the Chesnut Hill social set. Leila traveled with her parents from her earliest days – she was in Europe before she turned 8, visiting Monaco and France.

getimageComing from a solid upper middle class family, Leila had a top notch schooling, shuffling between private schools in England, France and Italy, and, after coming of age, getting her very own place in the Back Bay Society of Boston. Being one of the oldest WASP society enclaves in the US, the Boston set was highly prestigious and Leila was a sough after debutante. Yet, the life of leisure proved too unsatisfying for the energetic girl and after getting the acting bug she enrolled into Walter Hartwig’s Junior Colony Theater School. Her talent did not go unnoticed and in 1937 she was given a big chance of playing opposite the theater’s professional team, led by Donald Cook, in a play named “Soubrette”. A Paramount executive saw her and steered her towards the New York office. To prepare for a movie career, she enrolled into Boston’s Leland Powers School for Radio . Reta Shaw was one of the more famous actresses to come out of that school. After one term at Powers, she got real acting experience in the Mercury Theater (led by Orson Welles), acting in stock in Maine. There George Abbott heard her, and tested for his upcoming play, Too Many Girls.

CAREER:

Leila had much better luck on Broadway than in Hollywood. After some brushing up in summer stock, she got her first real role in Too Many Girls in 1939. At the tender age of 17, there she was , on the sure road to stardom. And for a time, she did not disappoint. She took her theater career very seriously, and was very dedicated to it.

ecnbr6v1gogxrbveIn the interim of her theater work, Leila made only one movie in Hollywood. It was a leading female role in Life with Henry where she was surrounded by some pretty famous thespians – Jackie CooperEddie Bracken and the gossip queen/actress Hedda Hopper. The movie is not a bad piece of work, one in the long running series of the Henry Aldrich adventures, but it was quickly forgotten.

Leila was very level headed about both Hollywood and the movie business. She refused to stay as a contractee in California, and went back to summer stock right after the movie was finished. Despite the fact that she liked Hollywood and doing movies, her chief desire was to gain stage experience, and she knew she could not get that if she was tied to a studio for a prolonged period of time. Her plan was to work for two years on the East coast before trying her hand on the West coast yet again. She rubbed this method into her costar Jackie Cooper, who left movies for a period after Life with Henry to experience stage life and become a better actor. The two went into a semi partnership to appear in Maine summer stock.

indexAnd then, after some summer stock, Leila got her big break. In December 1940, Pal Joey opened on Broadway with her, Gene Kelly and Vivienne Segal in the leads. Leila played Linda English, the nice, naive showgirl, Segal’s rival for Joey’s love. The show is a musical theater staple even today, and got made as a movie in 1957 (sadly with no actors from the original run, but with Rita HayworthFrank Sinatra and Kim Novak in Leila’s role). The play lasted for a year and after it ended in November 1941, Leila opted for semi retirement with her new husband.

In early 1943, there were reports that RKO was giving Leila a large build up to become a comedienne in the class of Carole Lombard, but it all amounted to nothing, and she left the West coast not long after. She was back on the stage in June 1943 in Doughgirls. A funny farce about wartime Washington, it was a decent comeback vehicle, and Leila was once again ready for the big spotlight. She continued touring with the play in 1945.

tot5k71auo817kaoIn 1946 she hit the Broadway stage once again with Truckline Cafe, starring in February 27, 1946. Tons of highly revered names were involved in it: Maxwell AndersonHarold ClurmanElia KazanMarlon BrandoKarl Malden and  David Manners among others, but it was a failure, closing after only 13 performances. Today it is best known as one of Brando’s earliest stage credits.

Leila’s last Broadway credit was If the Shoe Fits, a short lived musical that closed after a few performances – but Leila at least played the dream role for every woman – Cinderella.

Leila withdrew from the acting life after this.

PRIVATE LIFE:

Papers tried to make the most out of her blue blood background. She was hailed as a “blonde Boston ball of fire” who “shocks old Boston dowagers with her crazy tomboy antics” in Hollywood. Example: Leila dated Victor Mature, the muscle man of Hollywood. For one, Mature, who came from a humble background, had a special taste for fine bred ladies (three of his wives were debutantes), and for the other, they were even named “Least likely to romantically succeed” by the papers. The press got that right (what a shocker! :-P), as they broke up soon after. The same year she had a unnamed Boston admirer who only saw her photo, but was ready to date her anyway. No info is given to what happened next.

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Leila married Stacy Beakes Hulse Jr. on July 1, 1941, in the Church of the Transfiguration (commonly known as the Little Church) in Manhattan. Hulse was born on April 25, 1920 in New Haven, Connecticut to a prominent family, attended the private Belmont High School, studied at Harvard, majoring in business and specializing in American colonial history. Afterwards, he would go on to work in the finance world.

Alas, the marriage was not meant to last – they separated in late 1945 and divorced in 1947 in Dade, Florida. Hulse died in 1988 in Maryland.

In 1946, before her divorce (but while she was separated from Hulse), she started dating Edgar Luckenback, a Palm beach man from a prominent shipping family. The relationship lasted until mid 1947. After this, she was seen with Victor Carbone and was suppose to marry him in 1948, but nothing came out of it. Right after came Bruce Emmings, a British business executive, but that too did not lead to marriage.

Leila’s last acknowledged beau was James Veitch in 1952. What happened to her afterwards is a mystery.

She is allegedly still alive today, at the age of 91.

Kay Harris

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Now, here is an actress who actually had a career in Tinsel Town, playing leads and supports in movies that were not blockbusters nor works of art, but still were bread and butter to thousands actors, actresses, directors and other Hollywood personnel.

EARLY LIFE:

Katherine Harris was born to James and Agnes Harris on August 18, 1919, in Elkhorn, Wisconsin. Her siblings were John (older brother), James (younger brother) and Martha (younger sister). Her father was the vice-president of Milk Products Co, so the family was well off and employed a maid, Josephine.

Katherine attended Elkhorn high school and graduated in 1937. She moved into the amateur theatrics arena by doing summer stock for two seasons. After a year at Milwaukee Downer and another at Carlton college in Minnesota, she did bit work with the Belfry Players and the Grand Detour.

$T2eC16dHJGIFFoVWjJFTBS,MuhgLCw~~60_12In 1940, Kay was getting ready to enroll into University of Wisconsin, when her aunt, Marsha Wheeler, a member of the staff at the Station WSAI in Cincinnati, offered Kay a position as her personal secretary. Kay accepted and wired her parents to cancel her dormitory room and she moved to Cincinnati to start working.

Kay was by pure coincidence – Penny Singleton, the actress playing in the Blondie series, was vacationing there with her husband, producer-director Robert Sparks, and they were giving  a joint appearance at the radio station Kay worked in. Penny noticed the pretty girl, and persuaded her husband to test her for the role of Tillie the Toiler, another popular comic book series heroine, previously played by Marion Davies. Kay took the plunge, bough a round trip to Los Angeles, asked for a two week leave from work, and departed. She tested for Tillie, and got the role which catapulted her towards a Columbia contract.

CAREER:

Kay had a much better career than most starlets on this site. No, she was not in the big league with Barbara Stanwyck and Claudette Colbert, nor was she ever a well known B actress like Marguerite Chapman, but she worked regularly from 1941-1943 and did a few decent movies with strong roles – thus, no uncredited and -blink-and-you’ll-miss-me roles.

Kay’s first movie was a lead in Tillie the Tolier. Sadly the movie is both forgotten today and hard to find, almost a collector’s item, but back in 1941, the plot and Kay were critically applauded. Based on a famous comic, Kay plays the eponymous Tillie, an adorable but clumsy girl who almost shipwrecks a business, only to singlehandedly rise it from the ashes in a triumphant outcome.

Z35ER2Kay made a big return to Elkhorn, where the world premiere of the film was help to great fanfare and newspaper interest. After spending the summer there, it was back to Hollywood for more legwork.

The rest of her career was undistinguished but solid. Her next was Parachute Nurse, a woman empowerment movie typical for the WW2 period with the ever reliable Marguerite Chapman in the lead. Kay has an interesting role of a fellow parachute nurse. The string of WW2 themed movie continued in Sabotage Squad, a anti-Nazi spy movie with the muscleman Bruce Bennett – and Kay was once again the leading lady.

Lucky Legs put her in a female troika with Leslie Brooks and Jinx Falkenburg, both stunningly beautiful and better known actresses. The movie is very obscure today. Her next movie is easily her worst, The Spirit of Stanford – a badly made, amateur drama about about college life. Frankie Albert plays a over-the-top, infinitely annoying I-am-better-than-you college grad who miraculously changes his ways for a woman. Been there a thousand times, seen better.

After this, Kay was in a similar football/college movie, Smith of Minnesota.- and then hit rock bottom by being a low class western leading lady in Robin Hood of the Range and The Fighting Buckaroo. Better than uncredited fare, it still signaled a downward spiral for her that ended as it usually did for actresses in 1940 – by retirement.

On a high note, Kay ended her film career by choice and not by necessity, as she still was a leading lady, no matter what type of movies she made, and could have pushed for at least several more years, especially during the war when actors were scarce and actresses were expected to take a large burden of the movie making process.       

PRIVATE LIFE:

Kay started dating right of the bat in Hollywood. Her first admirer was Jack Clark, manager of the Plaza Hotel, in March 1941. Already in April she turned the head of Ken Murray, $(KGrHqUOKkUE3V,GknS3BN7s05E82g~~_3famous impresario. he gave her a welcome party to Hollywood and introduced her to a large number of film people. She broke his heart by leaving him for Cliff Edwards, another admirer.

Kay married her first husband, Henry Freulich, a cameraman, in 1942. He was born in 1906 in New York and worked in Hollywood since 1930s. Already in January 1943,she was on the way to Reno for a divorce. Freudlich went on to become a noted cinematographer. He married Adele N. Roy in 1961. He died in 1985.

Kay left Hollywood in 1943, and as a result, her newspaper output was severely diminished, and I could not find any further information about her life.

IMDb claims that Kay Harris died on October 23, 1971, somewhere in California. I could find no much Katherine on the Social Security death Index – another mystery. Whatever happened, I just hope she had a good life.

The first post…

Hello and welcome to my blog!

This blog is dedicated to the obscure actresses of the 1930s, 1940s and 1950s.

Now, you might ask the questions, why?

As I already said, most of these actresses are unknown, and they deserve to be. They are, sometimes, footnotes in Hollywood history, sometimes less than that. They were totally irrelevant to any movie the appeared in. Most of them never had a featured part. Some never had a credited part. Some never spoke lines.

But, they lived in Hollywood when it was actually FUN to live there – and they used it for all it’s worth. Rearly did they end tragically – in fact, most of them died in their middle to old age (60 + years). Unlike some better known actresses who were crushed by the fickle Tinsel Town, perhaps the little players were better equiped to face the town that is ready to sell your soul so cheaply.

Finding info about them on the internet is a maudlin, difficult and sometimes boring. After spending hours and hours gathering info, I decided to share some of it.

So, if you’re interested in obscure classic Hollywood, this is the place to be!

Until next time!