Lorraine Krueger

Perky, pretty and a really good dancer, Lorraine Krueger had a brief but sweet Hollywood career, appearing mostly in B features. he gave up Hollywood to become a real estate agent. Let’s learn more about her!

EARLY LIFE

Lorraine Krueger was born on February 27, 1918, in St. Louis, Missouri, to Johann Wilhelm Alfred Krueger and Jesse Ione Mullins. She was the third of four children, and the only daughter – her older brothers were Alfred Carl, born on September 28, 1909, and Herbert born on December 12, 1911, and her younger brother was Raymond. Her father worked as a buyer for a retail store and was an educated chandler, working with candles and wax.

Lorraine started dancing at the tender age of three, and pretty soon it was obvious the girl was a genuine talent. Dancing became the number one thing in her life, as she later told the papers, he “had studied dancing, dreamed dancing and danced”. After graduating high school, she started to work full time as a dancer. She soon found work as a ballet chorus girl, and steadily gained more and more popularity in the entertainment circles.

After she had achieved no little fame as a dancer in her own state, and buoyed by her success, decided to “go Hollywood”. But when she came to Hollywood, reality struck her. The best she could do was to secure a place for herself in the chorus of a dance number directed by Hermes Pan. At first she thought she couldn’t go so far backward in her career, but Pan immediately noticed her and after the chorus work managed to get her into “New Faces of 1937.” She will appeared in a solo dance in the picture, and that is how her career started!

CAREER

Loraine appeared in some pretty famous movies from 1930s and 1940s. She made her debut in New Faces of 1937, a typical extravaganza musical with loads of ladies and no real plot. If you like em that way, by all means watch it! Then came Everybody’s Doing It, a totally ridiculous, implausible B Comedy Mystery, with the plot of, believe it or not, gangsters trying to cash in on a picture puzzles contest craze. Sounds crazy?

But a remedy was on its way – Lorraine had the goo luck to be a part of Bringing Up Baby, one of the premier, best screwball comedies ever made. Lorraine went the low budget western route next, in I’m from the City. A bit better than Exposed, a Glenda Farrell vehicle where she plays a smart talking female reporter, ala Torchy Blane, who wrongly accuses a decent man, and the comedic fallout from that. The male lead is played by Otto Kruger, an incredible actor who had this unique cobra-line charm. Lorraine also played one of the blond showgirls in Idiot’s Delight, a delightful comedy with Clark Gable and Lana Turner. Lorraine’s last 1930s movie was All Women Have Secrets, a forgotten movie about then-contemporary post-college life for three couples.

The 1940s were a bit better for Lorraine. Her first movie of the decade was The Farmer’s Daughter, but not the famous on with Loretta Young and Joseph Cotten, but a forgotten Martha Raye comedy. Equally forgotten is Golden Gloves, a sports drama about corrupted world of box, and one of the few movies that Jeanne Cagney, the talented sister of Jimmy, made. She then appeared in a proto-feminist classic, Dance, Girl, Dance, hemled by the great Dorothy Arzner, with Maureen O’Hara and Lucille Ball playing two very different breeds of dancers. And Louis Hayward is absolutely yummy in the movie!

Next up, Model Wife, with the plot, as a IMDB reviewer wrote: Model Wife casts Dick Powell and Joan Blondell, married but on the rocks in real life, as a married couple who have to keep their marriage a secret. They work in a department store that is run by Lucile Watson who does not permit folks married to each other in her employ. That’s enough of a strain on the marriage as it is. It’s same old, same old comedies that Powell and Blondell made by the bucketful in the 1930s, so nothing really interesting to write about. Unholy Partners was definitely a bit better fare: one of the popular newspapers drama (Citizen Kane is the sterling example here), it pairs Edward G. Robinson and Laraine Day. Since I love Laraine and think Edward was a top actor, I have to say I have a soft spot for the pairing. While the movie isn’t a classic, it holds up well and is worth watching. Then came Hi, Buddy, which is perfectly summarized on the IMDB page as: A military-flavored , world war two , song-and-dance B-feature in which a fund-raising effort save a boys club from being closed. Guess not a lot of art can be found here, but a fun and watchable musical? Yep! He’s My Guy was much in the same vein, a military themed musical.

Now Sarong Girl is an interesting movie! If nothing else, it’s worth seeing to see the alluring burlesque queen Ann Corio in one of the very few movies she made, and to see Irene Ryan, always a top-line comedienne. We continue in the military vein. The Adventures of a Rookie is a sub par comedy with a totally unknown comedy duo, Wally Brown and Alan Carney. Yep, it’s a Abbott and Costello ripoff, and it’s not a good one. Career Girl was a low budget musical about a girl who want to make it on Broadway – the lead is played by Frances Langford, and the male lead in the very handsome Craig Woods. Nothing to write home about, totally mid-tier. Slightly Terrific is a Leon Errol vehicle and he hold the movie together – if you like Errol’s crop of humor, this will be top! No story, slight supporting players, but plenty of Errol and some good dancing! Then we have Henry Aldrich’s Little Secret, another one of the Henry Aldrich movies,and we all know how that goes!

Like tons of other starlets, Lorraine appeared in Here Come the Waves. This is one of those movies I wrote about several times, so no need to write again. Out of This World is a comedy about the radio world with Eddie Bracken, Diana Lynn and Veronica Lake in the leads. Bracken does most of the heavy lifting here, and is very good a low budget version of Bing Crosby – Bracken rules! Lorraine’s last movie was One Exciting Week, another low budget but funny comedy with the fabulous Jerome Cowan, Pinky Lee and Shemp Howard trio.

And that’s it from Lorraine!

PRIVATE LIFE

Why is Lorraine Krueger interesting? Well, her story shows us how extras lived and worked, and how, even when you got a small speck of fame, it wasn’t enough to parlay you into a solid career. You constantly had to work and reinvent yourself. In this regard, Lorraine’s story is very enlightening. Here is a article about the lives of the extras in Hollywood, 1930s style. This was a huge subculture in Tinsel town, one that does not get nearly the recognition that it deserves, so here are some bits and pieces from their lives:

Here’s Where 5000 Phone Calls a Day Give 500,000 People a Chance at Stardom! A little blonde girl named Lorraine Krueger plays her firs starring part in “New Faces of 1937” and a lot of people who ask where her career began. Mark Sandrich, director of the picture, says it began one day when he passed a stage where she was practicing some intricate steps with a group of chorus girls, L rehearsal for “Shall We Dance.” He liked her personality an skillful feet and gave her a bit in the picture. But Lorraine herself really began from Central insists her success with a phone call Casting. On the books of the Central Casting Bureau in Hollywood are listed approximately half a million persons representing every nation in the world, all living in Los Angeles. The names of these new-faces are tabulated on index rotary flies that are placed on the switchboard in front of seven operators. 6000 calls are a daily average and at five o’clock in the afternoon, when requests for tomorrow’s extras come in, these seven files are the busiest battery of indexes in the world. No matter what sort of odd SOS is issued from the studios, these extraordinary files are ready to meet it. Perhaps a director must be supplied with as many as 104 extras who can play speaking parts the difficult demand made in the casting of RKO’s “Toast of New York”; or the call may be for an even dozen of typical “beef-trust” chorus girls, such as were hired to dance in front of Jim Fisk, fabulous speculator, and financier, played by Edward Arnold in the same film, a brilliant spectacle of the 70’s. Another flip of the files makes available names of 100 actors needed In an oriental bazaar scene, each man speaking a different language. It la even possible to meet a call for seventy stuntmen who can recreate the wild scenes of the “Black Friday” place of more than 100 extras who will not revolt If the end of the day’s work finds them with black eyes and bloody noses. Behind It all. behind these visible files and the supply and demand that deals in blondes, brunettes, young ones and old on is that Intangible for the chance for success!

Now there are some important information about the life of an extra! At R-K-O. Lorraine salary was scaled from 75 to $100 weekly over the period of her contract. She didn’t earn a lot but enough for a normal life. Sadly, her RKO career got her nowhere, and she was shopping for better options, although that also didn’t work out in the long run. Here is the story of how she got a bit better work:

Her ability won her the the studio contract as a dancer. Without introduction she won the contract by appearing before Dance Director Hermes Pan. She did so well that Pan gave her a Short dance routine with Fred Astalre In “Shall We Dance.” Had Given Up Hope. But after that she was forgotten. It was true that she had a few camera appearance In brief dancing bits, but the long-awaited  break that would push her up to featured roles did not come. When she had given all hope up of any movie fame. Director Ben Holmes discovered her. He did not find her on the-studio lot but saw her in a picture. Holmes, spied the girl doing a dance sequence in “Everybody’s Doing It.” He was at a neighborhood theater and Immediately decided she was the girl he needed as Penner’s leading lady in “I’m From the City.” The next day Holmes told the casting department to get that girl for him. Miss Krueger- was taking a few days off from work but she was found, brought back, tested and given the leading lady role alt in a few hours. i

During WW2, Lorraine was very active in the war effort and she performed in 281 camp shows all around the US. On the other hand her private life was very low key. In September 1949 Stu Wilson, radio M. C., were shopping for wedding rings. They were married later in the year, on December 2.

Stuart Robert Wilson was born on 24 September 1903 in Chicago, Illinois, to Robert John Wilson and Edith Alomeda GrahamThey family moved to Cleveland, Ohio, where Stuart was educated. He came to California before 1930, seeking work. He worked as a salesman in a flying school before landing a gig on a radio station in the 1930s. He was married twice before Lorraine – to Lois Helen Roussel in 1924, and Thelma Maree Ferris, in 1934. He had two children with Lois, Beverly Claire, born on June 3, 1925, and Robert Stuart, born on September 18, 1928. Wilson had a very minor acting career, appearing in several popular TV shows, like Batman and The Man from U.N.C.L.E..

Lorraine and Stu enjoyed a happy and long marriage. Lorraine gave up movies in 1946, and In later years, was a real estate broker. The couple lived in Los Angeles. I could not find out if they had any children, so I would venture to guess that they did not.

Stuart Robert Wilson died on August 1, 1991. Lorraine didn’t remarry after his death and continued living in California.

Lorraine Kruger Wilson died on July 15, 2003, in Westlake Village, California.

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.

 

Cynthia Westlake

Cynthia Wastlake was, at first glance, a typical chorus girl of the 1930s – pretty, bouncy, talented but with no real dramatic training, with odds stacked against her in the path to the stars. It took a deeper look and a new side of Cynthia is revealed – she was a budding writer who tried to write a book and make a slightly different impact. She traded all her career aspirations for marriage in the end. let’s learn more about her.

EARLY LIFE

Cynthia Coralie Westlake was born on August 11, 1916, in Los Angeles, California, to Tom Miller Westlake and Camille Hiltabidle. Her father was a professional soldier working for the US army. He enlisted in 1898, when he was 18 years old. There is a bit of a confusion about Tom, as I found a page that clams that he was married once before, to Inez Barnes, and had a son, Richmond Earle, born in 1917. He divorced Inez and married Camille in 1919 in Kingman, Arizona, but since Cynthia was born in 1916 this doesn’t make much sense! Anyway, Cynthia’s younger brother Earle was born in 1920.

Growing up in Los Angeles when the movie industry was in it’s nascent stages was probably very stimulating and Cynthia had a natural knack for singing and dancing. Her first brush with the movie world was at age 3, and it would be quite important for her future career. Namely, noted dance director Joseph Santley saw her dancing and promised her parents that he would help her if she chose showbiz as a vocation one day.

Sadly, the family had other concerns than Cynthia’s dancing career, as her father was pensioned in 1922 and died on May 31, 1926. Being a widow with two small children was never easy, and Camille’s sister Dorothy came to live with them and help. Camille raised Cynthia and Earl in Los Angeles, where she owned and operated a beauty shop. Cynthia in the end did decide to make showbiz her vocation, and she entered movies in 1937.

CAREER

Cynthia appeared in eight movies during her brief career, always uncredited. She allegedly had a bit part in A Star Is Born, a total classic and the original that was remake so many times since. We all know the story, but it’s not about the story, it’s about the emotions and the superb acting. I love Frederic March, and he’s tops here, so what more do you need? Janet Gaynor is very fine, although I do prefer Judy in the role in a later remake. Next up was Meet the Missus, a charming comedy. There is even a character named Mrs. North-West 🙂 Cynthia appeared as one of the many nameless showgirls in New Faces of 1937, and like most movies with the year in the name, it’s stick thin in terms of plot but plenty of music and dancing. Cynthia than appeared in two mediocre movies and two absolute gems.

The two mediocre movies were: A Damsel in Distress and Night Spot. Damsel wads based on a Wodehouse novel, and you can summaries it’s a comedy of manners like most of his work, and it marked Joan Fontaine’s acting debut – she’s the thin link here, as a genteel English lady, but we have Fred Astaire, George Burns and Gracie Allen to compensate. It’s a fluffy, frilly, light entertainment and it works on many levels, but just don’t expect too much! Night spot is  a low budget comedy-mystery where Joan Woodbury gives an honest alibi for nightclub owner Bradley Page, and the police officer, played by Alan Lane, is trying to break her story. Like many classical movies it’s worth watching for the supporting cast alone – Jack Carson and Lee Patrick among others! Sweet!

The two gems that Cynthia appeared in were Stage Door and Bringing Up Baby, both from Katherine Hepburn early RKO career, perhaps her best movie period overall (although this is open for debate! While Stage Door is a straight drama and very woman centered (huge like for that), baby is considered one of the best screwball comedies ever made, so viola! Sadly, RKO sacked Cynthia not long after, and she took a hiatus from Tinsel Town.

Cynthia’s only movie after her return to Hollywood was Blossoms in the Dust, one of the string of top notch movies Greer Garson made in the early 1940s. The story shows us the life of Edna Gladney (a real figure) who opposes the unfair laws discriminating against children whose parents are unknown, and opens an orphanage for those children. This one is  areal tear jerker, with more than a touch of soap opera but done with the polished finesse of MGM and given even more flair because of Greer’s incredibly warm, engaging performance. Greer is paired with her stalwart constant acting companion, Walter Pidgeon, and has a first class supporting cast: Marsha Hunt, Fay Holden, Felix Bressart . Now this is a good classical movie drama and definitely worth watching!

That was it from Cynthia!

PRIVATE LIFE

Since this is a cute story (eve if it’s not true), I will repeat the Joseph Stanley bit from I mentioned in her early life. This article made the papers when Cynthia started her career:

A film .director who kept a promise he made when she was 3 years old launched 19-year-old’ Cynthia Westlake in the movies, today. The director, Joseph Santley, when a musical comedy star here 16 years ago, watched a tiny girl, dancer perform and promised her. parents he would help her if the opportunity ever came. Santley was casting the film “Missus America” at RKO-Radio’ when Miss Westlake, now grown to a pretty young dancer, introduced herself and held him to his promise. She was cast in a small”, role for the picture

And now for her love life! Cynthia dated director Edward “Eddie” Ludwig for a few months in 1938, and was pretty serious about him. Russian born Ludwig was 17 years older than Cynthia, a seasoned director with a craftsman approach to movie making (he made more than 100 movies in his long career, both silent and sound features, both for theatrical releases and TV). The press were sure they would get married, but for some unknown reasons, they broke up by 1939.

Trouble for brewing for Cynthia by that time. The war had started, and the studios started to cut off actors, often using dubious techniques. For instance, if a studio has a choice of ten actors for a single role it can bargain nine of them out of the way and get the tenth pretty cheap. RKO, for example, had a large contract list, and was slicing it’s contract rolls. Ida Vollmar and Cynthia were early deportees, Walter Abel followed soon after, then RKOs cut at least a dozen players. So, Cynthia was effectively without a job in the ultra competitive Tinsel Town atmosphere.

Broken up with Ludwig and possibly disillusioned by her fledgling career, Cynthia decided to do a highly romantic and unusual gesture, spend a year of living alone aboard a yacht anchored off Catalina island. It was a move precipitated by her wish to take the time out to write a book which she hoped would be a best seller and a vehicle for the screen in which she can climb to stellar holes. “The Girl Who Lost Herself” was the title of the novel, and it seems that it was written but never published.

In early 1940, Cynthia returned to Los Angeles and to movies, and met and started to date  Rudolf Ising, M.-G.-M. cartooner. The romance became serious soon, with the papers calling them “a two-alarm blaze.” They married on August 16, 1941, in Los Angeles.

Rudolph Carl Ising was born on August 7, 1903, in Kansas City, Missouri, to Henry (Heinrich) Ising and Mary Holtzschneider, one of nine children (his siblings were Elizabeth, Martha, Mary, Adele, Richard, Henry, Bruno and Herman). His father was a German-born street laborer who tried to do farm work in the US, first in Oklahoma then in Kansas, ultimately settling as a beer truck driver in Kansas City. Rudolph’s mother died in 1905, not long after giving birth to her 9th child, and Henry mostly raised the children singlehandedly. While he was still in grade school, Rudy got a job at a local portrait company, first working as a printer than as a photographer. In 1922 he was an ad for becoming a cartoonist with Walt Disney and applied, very much enamored with the concept of cartoons. Then his career took of. Here is some information from his New York Times obituary:

Mr. Ising was working at a photograph-finishing laboratory when he was hired by Mr. Disney, who advertised in a local newspaper for a cartoonist when he was starting out in the early 1920’s in Kansas City, Mo. Mr. Ising helped to ink the drawings in the first animated Disney films, the “Newton Laugh-o-Grams.”

The operation moved to California, and Mr. Ising followed. But soon he and another Disney employee, Hugh Harman, broke away to create their own cartoons. Synchronizing Dialogue and Action

Their initial production, “Bosko the Talk-Ink Kid,” in 1929, was a breakthrough as the first talkie cartoon, synchronizing dialogue on the soundtrack with the action on screen. Disney’s earlier “Steamboat Willie” had music and sound effects but no dialogue.

The Bosko cartoon was also notable for its sign off, “That’s all, folks,” which became Porky Pig’s stammered trademark.

In 1930, the two men were hired by Warner Brothers, for which they devised the “Looney Tunes” label, a takeoff on Disney’s “Silly Symphonies” series.

In 1934, they joined Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, where they created Barney Bear, the ancestor of Yogi Bear. The inspiration for the lethargic Barney came from Mr. Ising’s habit of dozing off in staff meetings.

While Mr. Harman specialized in “Looney Tunes,” Mr. Ising developed “Merrie Melodies,” which emphasized the musical element. His strength was in writing and producing rather than illustrating.

Both cartoon series became staples of the nation’s movie-theater programs. Winning an Academy Award

In 1940, Mr. Ising’s “Milky Way,” a cartoon about three kittens, won an Academy Award, the first non-Disney cartoon to capture an Oscar. Mr. Ising was also honored in 1976 by the International Animation Society.

In World War II, he worked on training films as the head of the animation division for the Army Air Forces movie unit. After the war, he worked on commercials and television projects and retired in the 1970’s.

Cynthia retired from movies to dedicate herself to family life. Their son Rudolph Carl Ising was born on April 1, 1952. Rudolph ditched animation for working in ad agency. The family lived in California, and Rudolf and Cynthia ultimately settled in Newport Beach.

Rudolph Ising died on July 18, 1992. Cynthia did not remarry and went to live in Corona Del Mar.

Cynthia Westlake Ising died on November 25, 1997, in Corona Del Mar.

Vina Gale

Vina Gale was a chorus girl who never made it to billed parts, but it seems she was a solid dancer and that she enjoyed her dancing bits very much. After a brief career, she got happily married and raised a large family. Let’s learn more about her!

EARLY LIFE

Hervina Irene Gale was born on June 8, 1907, in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada, to Herbert Lancelot Gale and Eliza Ashman. She was the middle of three children – her older brother, Herbert, was born in 1904, and her younger sister Nora in 1918. Her father was a carpenter who worked as a coach builder. Both of her parents were English immigrants, her father from Bristol and her mother from Somerset.

Hervina grew up in Manitoba, possessing a strong dramatic streak since her earliest days – she performed for local crowds in various places and capacities, including for Armistice Day in St. Stephen’s church, when she was 11 years old. She probably dreamed, like many girls, of becoming a famous Hollywood actress.

Sadly Vina’s brother Wallace died in 1920 and the family moved to Los Angeles sometime after his death. I am guessing that Vina graduated from high school in Los Angeles and continued to hone her dancing skills in local dance schools. By 1930, she was working in movies as a dancer, and thus her career started!

CAREER

Vina appeared in seven movies, and literary all of them are musicals, and as you can guess, she was always an unbilled chorus girl. Before her first marriage, she made two musicals in 1929, both forgotten today – Fox Movietone Follies of 1929 and Words and Music. The only merit Word and Music have is that John Ford and John Wayne allegedly met while making it, and together they changed cinema history!

Vina returned to the sound stage in 1933, after her divorce, and made five more musicals, all very much alike – Too Much Harmony, Flying Down to Rio, George White’s Scandals, College Rhythm and Redheads on Parade. They are all typical early 1930s musicals – thin, non existent plot, a great number of pretty chorus girls parading around (sometimes half naked), often bland and boring main characters but excellent comedic support, and generally very good music. So if you’re not looking for Shakespearean style meditations on life and morals, go right ahead, these movies truly are fun and make for a perfect Sunday morning viewing. On the plus side, at least she appeared in the same movie as Fred and Ginger and Bing Crosby!

That was it from Vina!

PRIVATE LIFE

Vina was a Ziegfeld girl and during her tenure with the show became very close to a few of her fellow chorines. When Georgia Pemberton became the bride of Donald C. De War, Vina was maid of honor, and her good friends Margaret Butler and Lee Auburn were also in attendance.

Vina herself married Dr. Dee Miller in 1930. Dee Gamewell Miller was born on April 13, 1905, in Oregon, to Gamewell and Lulu Miller. The family moves to Phoenix, Arizona before moving to Los Angeles sometime int the 1920s. He became a doctor started to practice medicine before 1930. Vina gave up movies and dancing to become a housewife.

However, the marriage proved to be short lived and they divorced in 1932, with Vina testifying that he punched her in the chin. I sure hope that was an isolated incident and that she left him before more domestic violence erupted, but we can’t knwo for sure. Miller stayed in California after the divorce, continued to work in his practice, and married once again in the 1940s. He died on September 14, 1957, in Los Angeles.

Here is an interesting article about chorus girls in movies in the early 1930s, and Vina is mentioned as one of them. Read it, it’s really something!

Hollywood chorus girls think pretty well of themselves. They admit frankly they have sex appeal. Many of them consider themselves exceptionally beautiful, almost all know they possess great talent. They are proud of their figures. denounce the Mae West trend toward curves, and do not diet. On top of this they support partially or entirely support relatives, I learned as a result of talking to the 26 girls who are dancing In B. P. Schulbergs “Her Bodyguard” with Edmund Lowe and Wynne Gibson. Twenty-two of the dancers know they have sex-appeal. Seven admit they are exceptionally beautiful. Only one doesn’t claim extraordinary talent. Seventeen are proud of their figures and only five diet. All but three scoff at the possibility of Mae West making curves nationally popular. . , , The Paramount girls are typical of Hollywood, it was declared. They hare forked In “International House,” College Humor 42nd Street,” “The Gold Diggers of 1933, “Her Bodyguard” and , numerous other pictures. With an average age of 19.75 years, the LeRoy Prinz girls have amassed a total 147 years of professional experience, 102 of that n pictures. Most of them have danced about six years. The model chorus girl of Hollywood is five feet three Inches tall, weighs 144 pounds, has blue eyes, a 24-inch waist, wears a four-and-a-half B plus shoe and is a blonde. Their ideal man was shown to be a paragon of virtue. Given three qualities to demand in the ideal male, 24 of the girls asked for Intelligence, 19 for a good disposition, 16 for honesty, nine for ambition, seven for the good dresser, four for good breeding, three for masculinity and one each for the good drinker, sobriety, personality and wealth. Financial independence Is one of the outstanding characteristics of the Hollywood dancer. Twenty of the 26 are entirely self supporting. Two help support themselves. Twelve have dependents. Three contribute partially to their family’s up-keep; two support one relative; six support two relatives and one is burdened with a family of four. Exactly half of the girls live under false colors. Thirteen of them have changed the color of their hair either by bleaching or hennaing it. Thirteen are blonde, six are red heads and seven are brunettes. They have no fear of putting on weight with beer for 19 of them like the amber fluid. Fifteen of them drink stronger mixtures at times. ‘ Despite their youth, four of the girls are married and two are divorced. Only one doesn’t believe tn marriage while six are unconditionally against divorce. The typical Hollywood chorine is ambitious. Only seven of the girls have none! Those with ambition usually are aiming high. To he a successful actress, naturally, topped the list. Audrene Bier, Vee Allen, Adele Cutler, Betty Wood and Ruth Jennings wish to act Vina Gale wants to he a comedienne. Jeanette Dickson, Kathryne Hankin and Patsy want to be writers. Evelyn Carpenter has a modest request for small parts in pictures while Naomi Fay Chism demands screen stardom. Barbara McClay aspires to the stage. Three of the girls are domestically Inclined. They want success either in careers or home life. They are Virginia Dabney, Grace Davies and Joyce Murray. Sugar Geise wants financial independence and success. Peggy Allen and Georgia Clark want to be great dancers. Dorothy White hopes for a career as a costume designer.

Too bad that, of those mentioned here, only Virginia Dabney had a semblance of a career (and sadly, that’s not saying much!). Makes you wonder what happened to each of the girls in later life? Did they lead happy lived outside cinema-land? Or maybe stayed in Hollywood and worked at some backstage function?

Anyway, the papers reported that Vina, and Jack Manildi, oil man, were married in 1934. When I read this, i was sure that Minaldi was a proper, real oilman, probably from Texas, with money to spare. Not quite so. It seems that Minaldi was a different story all together.

So, a bit about him. Gildo “Jack” Minaldi (it’s even spelled Manidli sometimes, so I can’t be 100% sure) was born on January 6, 1906, in Santa Cruz, California to Eugene Minaldi and Henrietta Soria, bith Italian immigrants. He grew up in Santa Cruz and became a all-around star athlete of Santa Cruz high school. He later attended Pomona college. He was one of Santa Cruz high school students who attained his college education through the generosity of Miss Elsie M. King, teacher of mathematics at the local high school. As Jack said later in life about his education:

“I am a protege of one of your citizens, Miss Elsie M. King. I lived in her home the last two years of my high school attendance, after which she financed completely my college education. As you may know, she has financed either partially or all the education of at least six others in the years she has been at Santa Cruz, and has so unselfishly and unassumingly done so much for others. I definitely feel that her teachings and influence were instrumental in my development at a very important time in my life.”

This is such a wonderful, heartwarming story and it’s so nice to know you can find such human moments if you look for them. After graduation Jack was coach of the Harvard Military Academy for a few years and then with the Oil Well Supply company of Los Angeles (this is why they named him an oilman, ha ha ha ha) for about ten years. Ultimately ha was appointed manager of sabs for the Pacific Tube company of Los Angeles.

Minaldi married Helen Avresta Crane in 1929. She tragically died, aged only 25, after only three years of marriage, thus Jack was a widower when he married Vina.

At the beginning of their marriage Vina still wanted to continue her career, at least for a little while, which was unusual for most chorus girls. Even after their son, Jack King, was born on October 30, 1935, she still wished to pursue her dancing. However, a nasty incident occurred in late 1935:

Flames that flared Op when the transparent costume of a movie chorus girl touched an electric switch inflicted serious burns on the dancer and threw a film company into turmoil. The girl, Vina Gale, was reported in “fair” condition today at the Cedars of Lebanon hospital after, a restless night. Her husband, Jack Manildi, kept an all night vigil at the bedside with their seven-month-, old baby. The accident occurred yesterday at a studio where a musical show was being filmed. Miss Gale danced ‘ t-o close to the switch and the hoop! of her dress caused a short circuit. Miss Gale screamed and ran when her costume ignited. ‘ A studio electrician grabbed her and extinguished the flames. Several other dancers who had been touched by Miss Gale were able to slap out the fires that started in their dresses without injury. There wTere about fifty girls dancing with Miss Gale at the time. Order was quickly restored and the company went back to work today.

Here is a more poetic description of the incident:

Suddenly there is a shrill cry, a scream of fear and pain, as one of the girls leaps to her feet, her fluffy yellow dress afire. Tinsel on her skirt has come into contact with an electric cable apparently not fully protected and set her aflame. The young woman, who is Vina Gale, mother of a five-month old son, starts running for the nearest exit, while momentarily panic grips .the entire assemblage. Not all, however, lose their heads. A few who do not rush to tear off the blazing dress put out the flames. The they wrap the young woman In the first thing that comes to hand, a piece of carpet, and carry her to a near by set on which there is a bed. Soon a doctor and an ambulance arrive, and they hurry the lovely young dancer to a near by hospital as word goes around she is suffering from second degree burns about the body. A few moments later the director calls “Ready, everyone.”

Vina made a full recovery and retired not long after. The couple had four more children:  Gale Louise, born on June 12, 1938, Gary Robert, born on July 10, 1941, Stephen Crane, born on February 11, 1946, and Lynn Shelley, born on July 14, 1948. vina became a naturalized Us citizen in 1941. The Minaldi family lived in California and Vina was very active in local civic events.

The Minaldis moved to Honolulu, Hawaii, at some point, probably after Jack went into retirement. Jack died in Hawaii in September 1981. Vina stayed in Hawaii and didn’t’ remarry.

Vina Gale Minaldi died on July 29, 1994, in Honolulu, Hawaii.

Florine McKinney

A truly beautiful woman who could sing very well, Florine McKinney had a minor movie career before retiring to get married. Like some other actresses, she returned to movies after her divorce, but often the impulse they had a few years prior just vanishes and they are stuck in a thankless position – barely 30 years old, with a once promising career gone to ashes now, struggling to get even small roles. Florine retired from movies to do theater work. Let’s learn more about her!

EARLY LIFE

Florine McKinney was born on December 13, 1913, in Mart, Texas, to and Grace Humphries their only child. Her father was a professional druggist who had his own drug store.

Florine grew up in Fort Worth, and since she was a child it was clear that Florine possessed a knack for showbiz. She had a good soprano voice and was interested in amateur theatricals. Her dramatic efforts made her well known on the local Fort Worth scene. At some point, Florine decided to make ti her live hood, and opted to become an full pledged actress. That road, however, was not that easy.

She enrolled into the Central High School she appeared in school and Little Theater plays and gave concerts throughout Texas, singing In English, Italian, French, German and Spanish. She also did some radio singing.

A month before her scheduled graduation from Central High, Florine went to Hollywood with her vocal teacher in an ancient flivver which gradually fell apart on the way. They eventually arrived (safely) and Florine, armed with letters of introduction from her vocal teacher, went to visit all the local casting directors. She succeeded in procuring interviews, but, when no work was offered, she returned to Fort Worth after five weeks.

Entering high school again for her diploma this fall, she was at her studies when Paramount wired he an offer of a test, her voice and beauty being remembered when musical productions returned to favor Arriving in Hollywood, she made two tests and signed a contract. At the same time, she won a scholarship to the American Conservatory of Music in Chicago and was preparing to enter that institution when her film offer came. She also won the Fort Worth trials of the National Atwater Kent contest, but relinquished her chance in the State finals when she went to Hollywood. And so her career started!

CAREER

Since Florine actually appeared in a more than 30 movies, I’ll just take a rough outline of her career. Florine entered movie in 1932, and stayed until 1937, when she got married and retired (seemingly for good, but not quite!). She appeared in a strin gof women’s movie headed by large starts of the day – Norma Shearer in Riptide and Joan Crawford in Dancing Lady, and even appeared twice with Jeannette MacDonald (The Merry Widow and One Hour with You). These are all good A class movies, but sadly Florine was not to be seen for more than a moment or two, perhaps managing a slightly bigger role in at least a few movies (like in Cynara).

Florine’s biggest role from this period was is David Copperfield, where she played Little Em’ly, the Woman. it’s a beloved movie today, a well received adaptation of the Dickensian classic. Afterwards, she made a string of credited performances, and by 1937, she was heading somewhere. She had the leads in solid B efforts like A Star Fell from Heaven and Blazing Barriers. But marriage took a front seat to her career, and she gave up Hollywood for the time being.

The second part of Florine’s career is from 1940-1942, after her divorce. She appeared in a few famous classic in that period: Waterloo Bridge (still not as good as the 1930s version, but Vivien Leigh is always very watchable!), The Philadelphia Story (one of Katherine Hepburn’s bets role,s no questions asked), and Blossoms in the Dust, a very nice Greer Garson tearjerker (Greer was SO good in these roles! Rarely did an actress consistently give such sincere, warm yet ladylike performances like Greer did).

Florine’ last movie was he only credited performance from that period. It was Little Joe, the Wrangler, a low budget western. The story is only so so (taken from the IMDB page): Mining executive Neal Wallace arrives to investigate the losses at a gold mine and is immediately framed for murder. The murderers then incite a lynch mob but the Sheriff lets him go. Wallace eventually convinces the Sheriff of his innocence and the two then work together to get the gang that is looting the gold ore. We have Johnny Mack Brown and Tex Ritter, but guess what, neither of them is the Little Joe – believe it or not, Little Joe is Fuzzy Knight, who was 40 years old when the movie was made (I expected a child actor playing Little Joe, how wrong I was!). Florine is overshadowed by those three, PLUS Jennifer Holt, who has the leading feminine role. Guess she saw the writing on the wall and gave up movies after this one.

And that’s it from Florine!

PRIVATE LIFE

Florine was under legal age when she received court approval to a movie contract – $125 a week. She started promising, but it didn’t end up quite the way it seemed.

Florine was an ardent milk consumer. She insisted on her daily quota – Four quarters of a liter. When interviewed abotu the 1920s flapper social norms, Florine said this:  “Women always set the tone of behavior for men, and If women want dignity to come back Into social life, they’ll arrange It and men will follow their lead. Youth demands variety that’s the answer.”

In 1934, it began to look serious between Florine and fellow actor Ralph Malone. Since they started rehearsals together for the initial play to be staged at the Holly town Theater by Lela Rogers, mother of Ginger Rogers, they had been have been constantly together and a relationship developed. Sadly, with the closing of the play they went bust too.

Florine’s next big thing was director W. S. Van Dyke, and they were seen dancing at the Beverly-Wilshire weekly. Florine also dated Nat Goldstone made a foursome with him, George Raft and Irene Ware.

Florine had a a leading role in “Night Life of the Gods. and fell into a romance with screenwriter Barry Trivers, who adapted the play to the screen. They got engaged in 1936. The engagement ring was a unique band of yellow gold with the diamond set in carved leaves, designed by Florine and Trivers in a tandem. They wed in May 1936 in London. Trivers was born on February 12, 1907 in Cairo, Egypt to a British family.

Here is a short description of Triver’s career, taken from Rovi’s All-Movie Guide’s Hal Erickson (text found at the Fandango web site) and Memory Alpha:

American screenwriter Barry Trivers first began receiving screen credit in 1932. Trivers spent the rest of the decade at 20th Century Fox (where he worked on a few of the studio’s Jane Withers vehicles) and Warner Bros. His wartime film contributions included Republic’s Flying Tigers (1942) and RKO’s Army Surgeon (1944). Barry Trivers closed out his movie career with 1958’s Blood Tide.

He wrote for a number of films, including The Big Broadcast of 1937 (1936)Dreaming Out Loud (1940), The Wagons Roll at Night (1941), and Flying Tigers (1942). His other TV works include Perry MasonRawhideThe UntouchablesMannix, and Kojak. Trivers won the Writers Guild award in 1962 for his Naked City screenplay “The Fault In Our Stars”, which like his Star Trek episode utilized a William Shakespeare quote in its title.

Trivers also had some minor Broadway credit, but was allegedly well paid and well off. Barry was a golf enthusiast and even served as a Rancho Park Golf Course president in the 1950s. The couple moved to UK, and lived and worked there for a few years. Florine acted under the name of Lori Trivers and appeared extensively on the US theater circuit in 1938, playing in light opera like Rosalie.

In mid 1939, the marriage started to fall apart, and they separated by the end of the year. In January 1940, Florine and Trivers were seemingly talking reconciliation, going out together and acting as if nothing had happened. Whoosh, next thing we know, it’s April 1940 and Florine won a divorce from Barry – she told the Superior Judge that her husband broke her phonograph records, tore up her sheet music and told her their marriage was a mistake.

From that day until November 1941, Florine and Barry went left and right with their reconciliation/make-up acts. By December 1940 they were solidly on the way to reconciliation – they saw each other once a week and were trying to make up their minds about the state of their marriage. And so it went on for most of 1941, veering up and down, until something happened in November 1941 and they went bust, but this time for good. It seems they rarely if ever saw each other after that. Trivers died in 1981 in Los Angeles.

Florine left Hollywood not long after, and dedicated herself to theater. She also went with the Billy Gilberts on their USO trip to Africa, and almost married Lew Alter, but that romance failed in the long run. IMDB claims that Florine had a drinking problem and that is why she gave up movies – this could be, but there is no way I could substantiate this.

Florine married for the second time to a certain Mr. William Guest in the 1950s. The marriage did not last long, and she retired to Van Nuys at some point.

Florine McKinney died on July 28, 1975, in Van Nuys, California.

Ruth Channing

Ruth Channing was a gentle, well bred blonde who after a short dancing career and extensive theater experience landed in Hollywood purely by chance and tried to build a movie career for herself. It didn’t quite work out and Ruth retired to become a wife and mother, so let’s learn more about her!

EARLY LIFE:

Eva Louise Moynahan was born on May 18, 1904, in Boston, Massachusetts, to George Seymore Moynahan and Mary Gertrude Casey. She was the youngest of three children – her older siblings were Frederick, born in 1897, and Grace Gertrude, born on April 18, 1901. Her father was born in Ireland and worked as a professor at Harvard.

Ruth grew up in an intellectual East Coast Boston family, and due to her mother’s connections in the artistic world, was a mascot for the Boston Opera Company at the age of six. She studied ballet and dramatics, and wanted to become an actress from early on. She was formally educated in Notre Dame Academy, a private, all-girls Roman Catholic high school.

Sadly, her father died in 1919, and afterwards her mother moved to Los Angeles, while Ruth went to New York to try and establish a dancing career. In the early 1920s, she was appearing on Broadway and summer stock. Sadly,  she suffered an injury which derailed her dancing, and she switched solely to acting.

In 1930, after quite a bit of theatrical experience, Ruth came to Hollywood because of her mother’s Illness. In need of money, it was natural for her to seek work at a studio, since she had extensive stage training. Numerous tests finally landed her a contract with MGM, bit she languished in the studio and did’t get a part for months, waiting on stand-by.

Namely, how Ruth got into “real” acting is a funny story. Jean Harlow arranged for a screen test of Jay Whidden, in whom she was quite interested. Ruth was chosen to make the test with him because the somewhat resembled Jean. The result was that Ruth landed a job, while Jay landed outside of the studio. And thus her career started in earnest!

CAREER

Ruth appeared in only 10 movies, and was mostly uncredited. Her first movie was a minor Dorothy Arzner classic, Working Girls, about two country girls who come to New York to make it good. It’s a nice, nifty little movie, happy-go-lucky but not too saccharine, nothing outstanding but well made and with a charming cast of largely unknown but interesting actresses (Dorothy Hall, Judith Wood, Claire Dodd).

Ruth’s second movie was Vanity Street, a fast paced PreCoder with a marginally shocking story that is very much female centric! it does have some stupid moments, but it’s an interesting point about women who get into big towns to make a living and don’t quite succeed the way they expect it to. The cast is full of very talented but very neglected early 1930s actresses (Helen Chandler, Mayo Methot, Claudia Morgan) and some very good actors too (Charles Bickford, George Meeker). Then came Broadway to Hollywood, a over wrought, somewhat overtly heavy drama about three generations of vaudevillians and their battles with the changing times, alcohol and overall human drama. Watch for Jackie Cooper but little else is worth noting.

Ruth had a more prominent role in Lazy River. The story is quite simple: three ex-convicts (Robert Young, Nat Pendleton, Ted Healey) come to Louisiana bayou village intending to rip off the family of a dead inmate, bu tit seems that he overestimated the family’s wealth, and of course Young falls for a Jean Parker and helps her fight off a gang of Chinese criminals. The movie is a solid low budgeter, with a good cast and some great underwater sequences.

Ruth was then cast in a prestigious production of Men in White, a Myrna Loy/Clark Gable movie where Clark plays an idealistic young doctor who has to grow up and understand that the world is not what it seems. it’s one of Clark’s last roles before his “macho” period that lasted almost until the end of his career (he played Rhett Butler one way or another is many of his roles, although who doesn’t like him like that!). The movie, based on a play by Sidney Kingsley, is a superb outlook on many topics that are still taboo today, like back alley abortions and Antisemitism. The cinematography is superb, with deep shadows and almost dreamlike quality. A definite watch!

Ruth was again uncredited in Laughing Boy, a very weird drama with Ramon Novarro and Lupe Velez playing a Native Americans in a Romeo and Juliet plot (not quite, but it has some elements of it). Then came Hollywood Part. Whoa, this is a movie you can’t believe got made. Helmed by 6 different directors and a dozen screenwriters, it ends up a hilariously bad but funny film about the fact that Jimmy Durante’s having a party and everyone’s invited. Yes, that’s the whole story, but you can see a whole bunch of old school comedy classics like the Three Stooges and Lauren and Hardy and enjoy some music and dancing. Feel good all the way!

Ruth had a small role in The Thin Man, the major classic of her filmography. Love William and Myrna together, what more do we need to say? Another really good movie came with The Merry Widow, an Ernest Lubitsch classic. Famous movie critic Andrew Sarris once wrote that “Lubitsch suggests the art of lilting waltz or bubbling champagne” and his movies truly are like that, evanescent, out of this world but still madly sophisticated and with a certain charm that nobody could replicate. The plot is simple enough, When a small kingdom’s main tax payer (Jeannette MacDonald) leaves for Paris, its king dispatches a dashing count (Maurice Chevalier) to win back her allegiance. Maurice and Jeannette work wonderful together, and Edward Everett Horton in the supporting cast is an absolute gem!

Ruth closed of her career with Outlawed Guns, her first and last starring role, but sadly, as you can guess from the name, it’s  a low budget western!! The star is Buck Jones and the plot is made to tear up your heart – he’s trying to save his kid brother from some bad influences. Ruth just had to look pretty in it and that was the whole point of her role. The movie itself a mixed bag. On the good side, this western i s a notch up the typical low budgeter, even has some deeper moments (but don’t look TOO deep) but on the downside, it’s still a low budgeter and has no great value, and it did nothing for Ruth’s career.

And that was it from Ruth!

PRIVATE LIFE

Ruth gave a beauty hint for the readers:

Although I take part in active sports, tennis and golf, I am careful to keep my skin powdered over a make-up cream when exposed to sun and wind. I find this make-up excellent protection. I have never had a sun tan. When cleansing the skin, after removing the surface make-up with cream, I use warm water and a good mild soap.

Ruth was also civically minded. Along with fellow starlets Doris Hall and Pauline Brooks, she volunteered at the local Los Angeles Assistance League.

Ruth was married for the first time to a William Parker, on October 4, 1924 in New York. I couldn’t find any additional information about the marriage, but they divorced prior to her departure to Los Angeles in 1930.

Ruth married her second husband, Hamilton MacFadden, on September 29, 1934. Here is a very good article about MacFadden, taken from the MOMA web site:

Hamilton MacFadden was born in Chelsea, Massachusetts, in 1901, just a few years after the birth of motion pictures in the U.S. His entry into the world of performance came as an actor on Broadway in 1923, in the American adaptation of Luigi Pirandello’s drama Floriani’s Wife. MacFadden continued to act through 1925, when he performed his final role in George S. Kaufman and Marc Connelly’s comic Beggar on Horseback. The play was a hit in the Broadway drama season of 1925, and was later made into a Paramount Pictures film of the same name, directed by James Cruze and starring the jocular Edward Everett Horton. (Interestingly, Beggar on Horseback examined the intersection of art and commerce and what artists need to do in order to feed their aesthetic passions as well as their bellies!)

Stepping from the front of house to behind the curtain, MacFadden took on the pivotal titles of producer, director, and stage designer from 1925 through 1929, assuming key production roles in The Carolinian (1925), Gods of the Lightning (1928), One Way Street (1928), La Gringa (1928) and Buckaroo (1929). As he said adieu to the Broadway stage, MacFadden’s curriculum vitae was packed with the foremost names in American theater, Maxwell Anderson and Tom Cushing among them.

Upon his arrival in Hollywood, MacFadden married actress Violet Dunn and soon was put under contract to Fox Films. Work as a contract director basically meant that you went to the studio every day, received a directorial assignment that hopefully played to your strengths, and completed the picture. This was not ignoble work, and some directors broke out to become notable on their own, but for the hundreds and hundreds of films made in the heyday of the studios, the contract director kept the pipeline full of new releases. MacFadden’s work might not be as well known as such Fox kinsmen as John Ford, Frank Borzage, or Raoul Walsh, but his films were popular with audiences and critics alike.

The marriage started on a slightly bad note when Ruth fell and suffered a broken wrist while the couple were en route to Santa Barbara and had stopped at a service station. She stepped out of the car she slipped. Luckily she recuperated easily and could enjoy her honeymoon phase with Hamilton afterwards.

Ruth gave up her career to devote herself to married life. The MacFaddens had three children: Channing,. born on May 4, 1936, Deirdre, born on July 26, 1939, and Folger, born on April 13, 1941. The family led a happy life in Los Angeles, where MacFadden worked in the movie industry as a writer and director.

MacFadden and Ruth divorced in 1949, and Ruth returned to New York afterwards, living in Manhattan. Little is known about her later life, except that she married a Mr. Robertson (about whom I could find no information) and lived with him in Brewster, Massachuests in their later years.

Ruth Channing Robertson died on December 8, 1992, in Brewster, Massachusets.

Poppy Wilde

Poppy Wilde, heralded as one of the most beautiful showgirls in Hollywood, was exactly that – a glorified extra in more than 40 movies, a pretty face used solely for eye candy. As you can well imagine, this was not a formula for career gold and she retired after getting married, but her life story is interesting, so let’s hear more about her!

EARLY LIFE

Jacqueline Ruby Wall was born on December 5, 1914, in Oakland, California, to Frederick Carl Wall and Olive Helen Chaffin. Her father worked as a railroad train-master. She was the third of six children – her older siblings were sister Mary Katherine, born on June 18, 1910, in Iowa, and William, who died just a few months after birth in 1912. Her younger siblings were Helen May, born on June 18, 1916, Florence Isabel, born on May 15, 1918, and Gladys Elaine, born on July 24, 1924.

Later obituaries claimed that her father was killed in a freak accident, leaving her mother to raise the children, but since he lived until 1940, let’s assume that he left Olive and she had to take care f the children single-handedly. Unable to take care of them, she eventually put some of them up for adoption. Jacqueline was adopted by her mother’s sister Isabel and her husband, John “Jack” Wardenberg, a well-off railroad executive in Salt Lake City, who didn’t have any children of their own.

While attending St. Maiys of the Wasatch, a private girls school, Poppy aired her own radio show. In 1929 a motion picture producer came to Salt Lake and took a shine to Poppy, with her beautiful silky black hair, ivory skin and dark, seductive eyes.The family moved to southern California so that Poppy could sign a studio contract, and that is how it all started!

CAREER

Ah, Poppy made more than 40 movies, which is quite a bit and I’m not gonna analyse them a great deal. She was mostly uncredited and appeared in really small parts.

I will just mention a few that are worth mentioning IMHO: Stand-In, a very funny and satirical exposee on Hollywood film making, with a superb cast of Leslie Howard, Humphrey Bogart and Joan Blondell, Angels with Dirty Faces, a classic crime movie with James Cagney and Pat O’Brien, members of our favorite Hollywood Irish mafia, Moontide, a proto noir and one of the few US movies Jean Gabin made, The Story of Vernon and Irene Castle, the last pairing of Ginger and Fred, Yankee Doodle Dandy, the classic musical with Cagney again, Road to Morocco, a Bing/Bob pairing deluxe, and Old Acquaintance, with tour de force performances by two divas, Bette Davis and Miriam Hopkins.

And that’s it!

PRIVATE LIFE

Poppy was quite tall with feet seven Inches, and weighed only 101 pounds. Here is a short quote from Poppy about her Hollywood life:

Off the set, while other beauties marched before the camera, she undertook to answer a question: What price movie glamour? “It’s a dull and strenuous life,” she said. “More dull and strenuous than anyone outside the Industry Imagines. “When I’m not at a studio, I’m at home by the telephone. From 6:30 in the morning until 8:30 at night the telephone and I are partners. At regular intervals, I call the central casting bureau on the chance there’s been an emergency opening. “I Just Go to Bed.” “It’s dull but true that if I hope to work often, say two or three times a week, I must stay near the telephone the rest of the time. “At night I’m too tired for dinners or parties or shows. I just go to bed.” On Sundays, Poppy is free to go out. She is 22 and on her afternoon dates has had three proposals of marriage. “No one has interested me enough to accept,” she said.

Poppy married Luther Verstergard on July 31, 1934, in Orange, California. Luther Raymond Vestergaard was born on December 7, 1902, in Chicago, Illinois, to Christian Vestergard and Maytha Hecker. He studied to become a lawyer, but the lure of acting was stronger, so he made his movie debut in 1925 under the name of Paul Power. He spent more than three decades playing a variety of bit roles that included one of King Richard’s knights in The Adventures of Robin Hood (1938), a Scottish highlander in I Married an Angel (1942), and a minister in Ma Barker’s Killing Brood (1960). He added television to his long resumé in the 1950s, appearing in such shows as I Love Lucy, Perry Mason, and Maverick. The couple divorced. In July 1946, he married Gertrud Elizabeth Warrington. He died on April 5, 1968 in North Hollywood.

Ruby married her second husband, talent agent Jack Crosby, on February 14, 1944, in Nevada. Jack Casier Crosby was born on September 7, 1903, in Elks, Nevada, to George Crosby and Lenore Casier, the oldest of six children. The family lived in Utah before they relocated to California, where he worked as a theater actor. Later he switched to the movie management business and was prosperous by the time he met Poppy.

Their son Dennis Brian was born on February 16, 1945. The Crosbys were very socially prominent in Hollywood, hobnobbing with luminaries like Fred Astaire, Lucille Ball and Dezi Arnaz. They were also quite outdoorsy – Jack loved to spend time in the open and rubbed it of into Poppy, who became a pro at fishing and was known to go salmon catching often. After Crosby got fed up with Tinsel Town in the 1960s, the couple moved with her to Coeur d’Alene, Idaho. Poppy stayed glamorous despite this change of scenery, and kept up with her old Hollywood peers, writing them voluminous letters and often visiting.

Strong willed and opinionated by nature, Poppy was also a very generous, kind person who could strike up a conversation with anyone, and was an excellent cook, her specialties being tuna sandwiches, spaghetti sauce and a tasty salad. She was a skilled crafts-maker, collecting dolls and painting rocks. Poppy also played ukulele and loved to sing.

Crosby died on January 14, 1979. Poppy was devastated and had to learn how to take care of herself financially – her husband used to do all the money stuff himself and Poppy had no idea how to manage anything. In order to earn her keep she became a hostess at the Coeur d’Alene cruises, giving history lessons and flirting with the clients. Pretty soon she was introduced to Victor Fehrnstrom. A romance bloomed and the couple was soon married.

Victor was born on February 6, 1922, in Manchester, New Hampshire, to Victor and Marion Fehrnstrom. Here is a bit about her third husband, taken from his obituary:

Vic had a long, fulfilling life. He began his life on a farm in Derry, N.H., where he enjoyed time with his brother, Ernie, and sister Marion, but was raised mostly in Boston and carried that accent forever. He served in the U.S. Air Corps during World War II and taught aircraft recognition to keep the Army, Navy and Air Force from shooting down our own planes.

After his service, he lived in California and worked for the Inglewood Police Department. He worked patrol and became a patrol Sargent, and later was a Sargent in the Detective Bureau. Vic retired in 1972 and moved with his wife, Carole and two children to Harrison, Idaho, where he farmed, logged and enjoyed his 40 acres. Years later, he moved to Blue Creek.

He moved for a short time to Prescott, Ariz., but his heart was always in Idaho, so he returned quickly. Not long after his return, he met his next wife Poppy, and became a Captain on the Lake Coeur d’Alene Cruise Boats. He loved working and/or captaining the Dancewana, the Mish-an-nock, the Kootenai, the Coeur d’Alene and his favorite, the Idaho. He enjoyed working the St. Joe River cruises, narrating tours and making sure everyone enjoyed their time on the boats. “Captain Vic,” as so many knew him, delighted passengers for almost 20 years. After he retired, he continued to live in Coeur d’Alene enjoying family and friends until his passing. He would’ve been 94 in just a few short weeks.

Vic was loving, caring, smart, brave, easy-going, charming and fun. His kindness and humor were always evident, his laughter was contagious. He loved his family deeply. He was an honorable man that was admired, was a role model to many, and someone that family and friends could always count on.

Poppy and Vic lived a happy life in Cour d’Alene, and enjoyed spending time with their families.

Jacqueline Crosby Fehrnstrom died on August 1, 2000, in Cour d’Alene, Idaho.

Her widower Victor Fehrnstrom died on January 11, 2016.

Ila Rhodes

Ila Rhodes was a pretty blonde who got to Hollywood via the Pasadena Playhouse, and expressed a wish to seriously act (as she studied drama at college). Too bad it never came that far – she did a few small roles and then gave up movies altogether to get married. Her Tinsel Town highlight was dating Ronald Reagan, which got her five minutes of fame in the 1980s, after he became the President. Let’s hear more about her.

EARLY LIFE

Ila Rhodes was born on November 17, 1913, to William Allen Rhodes and Birdie E. Baley, in Marion, Missouri. Her father was an engineer. She was the youngest of six children, where her oldest siblings were really older than her – her brother Ernest and Omar were born in the 19th century (in August 1892 and July 30, 1895 respectively)! Her other siblings were Sarah, born on December 21,  1903, Nancy Ethel, born in April 5, 1906 and Charles, born in 1909. Sadly, Ernest died before Ila was born, probably in 1910. The family moved to Oklahoma when Ila was a little girl, and by 1920 they were living in Ottawa, Oklahoma.

Ila had a normal middle class childhood, even if it was a bit hectic. Namely, due to her father’s work, she moved a great deal and attended grammar school in Okmulgee, Hitchita, Checotah, McAlester, all in Oklahoma, and Fort Smith, Ark. She went to high school in Atoka, Muskogee and Tulsa, and later attended university at Oklahoma City (all four years). At the university Ida majored in dramatics, got a solid groundwork in Shakespeare and other classics.

Later publicity claimed that Ila’s full name was Ila Rae Cornutt, and that she was of Cheerokee Indian descent, but since they made up a great chunk of young starlet’s histories, I wonder if this is true. Not only was her surname not Cornutt, but she was born in Missouri, not Oklahoma. Although it could be she had some Cornutt family connection, but can’t be sure. Here is the article:

Permanent Blonds But if Ha’s a vanishing Indian (out of this school and into that one), she’s not a vanishing blond. Her family is a durable exception to the new scientific theory of “perishing blonds.” This theory holds that bruneta are gradually absorbing blonds. The blondness in Ila’s family is so strong that it erases competition. In the family tree is a great maybe even a great-great grandmother who was full-blooded American Indian. “Rust-Proof” Legend says that from the union of a blond, Dutch-English white man and an Indian’ maid came one child who had flaxen hair and blue eyes the first of the “non-rusting” blonds in the Curnutt clan. Ila’s pink-and-white complexion won her a role without a screen test in “Women in the Wind.”

No comment on that. Anyway, after graduation from college, Ila started to act in the Pasadena Playhouse and attended their dramatic school. Following graduation the dramatic school, she was noticed by Arthur Lyons, Warner Bros producer, and after a successful screen test signed a two-year contract with Warner Bros and her career was go!

CAREER

Ila appeared in only 6 movies. She was uncredited in Off the Record, a Joan Blondell/Pat O’Brien combo movie.  The two leads are dynamite together (playing newspaper people) and Joan is her usual cute but tough broad, but the movie is a low budget B class film and it shows in the short running time and too much stuff meshed into it. Part newspaper film, part drama and part romance, ti doesn’t really work, but as I said it’s worth seeing for Joan and Pat alone. They don’t make them like this anymore!

Ila was given a leading role in Secret Service of the Air, the first movie Ila appeared with Ronald Reagan. It has a very thin plot: Brass Bancroft and his sidekick Gabby Watters are recruited onto the secret service and go undercover to crack a ruthless gang that smuggles illegal aliens. As one IMDB reviewer notes, this film contains just about everything you could possibly fit into a 61-minute movie: a prison break, car chases, shootouts, bar fights, a love story, brawls, various plane chases and much more. Typical for a B movie of the period, where more was considered more.

Next was Women in the Wind, one of the movies that Warner Bros made Kay Francis do that that their prized star, who was paid thousands a week, would quite before her contract expires. Thus, we can assume it’s not a particularly good movie. Ila then appeared in a small role in Dark Victory, the Bette Davis weepie classic of 1939, with George Brent and  Humphrey Bogart thrown into the mix. The story is well known: a socialite discovers she has an inoperable tumor and has to change her whole life before her time comes. Bette excelled at these kind of roles, and the supporting cast is wonderful, so overall it’s a very good movie.

Ila’s last movie was Hell’s Kitchen. The Dead End Kids star in this remake of The Mayor of Hell and Crime School, with Ronald Reagan and Margaret Lindsay as obligatory grown ups support. Nothing to write home about, but does have some socially conscious moments and it’s one of Ila and Ronnie’s movies together!

That was it from Ila!

PRIVATE LIFE

Ila was five feet five, weighting 112 lbs in her prime, and shaved 4 years of her CV when she was signed by Warner Bros. Growing up in Oklahoma, Ila was something of a bronco-busier. She didn’t tell Warners about that at first, because she was afraid she’d be cast in westerns and have to hide her pretty figure in a pair of chaps.  She also told the papers that she dieted on baked potatoes and skimmed milk when she wanted to lost a few pounds. She was best friends with Margaret Lindsay and Marie Wilson, and the three often sipped drug store ice cream sodas like a trio of high school girls. She also wore two old-fashioned hat pins with garnet beads she found among her mother’s keep-sakes.

Here is a bit more about Ila: She liked to sing and dance and did both well. She was a fine horsewoman, a fact she concealed for a time fearing to be typed westerns. She played tennis and danced to keep fit, dieted mildly, attended the Methodist church, drove a two-year-old car, didn’t care for jewelry. She rised early, saved her money and read a good deal. Her best friend was Ida Lupino. Her natural blond hair and startlingly blue eyes were the kind that delight cameramen. She also gave a recipe for a special bleaching masque – take a whipped up egg you add the juice of a big lemon, then apply it to your face and leave it on for a half hour. Take two facials each week.

If Ila is indeed remembered today, it’s because she was, allegedly, engaged to Ronald Reagan, then a young actor in the Warner Bros roster. It was the year 1937/38, she was around 21 (officially, but actually about 25) and he was around 30. Their budding romance consisted of lunch-break trysts and stolen weekends together. Ronnie used to take her for hot dogs and he had a no-smoking, no-drinking, no-dancing stance, preferring simple things like taking long walks and talking.  Ila would later say of him: “Ronnie was very attractive, and I enjoyed our weekends out together. I became engaged, with a ring on my finger, when fame started to affect us. The fans started to multiply.” Allegedly, Ila tried to sell some tall tales to Ronnie, claiming she was related to some old guard, wealthy aristocrats, but it remains to be proven either false or true.

The engagement lasted eight or nine months, when Warner Bros moguls decided romance between their stars was bad for box-office business, and started pressing Ronald to give Ila up. They used any means necessary to do it. Arthur Lyons, the Warner producer who had discovered Ila, started taking her to celebrity get-togethers and fashionable nightclubs. Bit by bit, this erosion  led to the break-up. Ila recalled later: “But it was elegantly done. He grew distant, withdrew a little, giving me plenty of room to take any kind of decisive step. And then we decided to face facts.” Shortly after the couple split they both married, Reagan to actress Jane Wyman and Rhodes to Lyons. Anyway, Ila and Lyons planned their wedding to be a Mexico City double-wedding with Ida Lupino and Louis Hayward getting  married with them.

In the end, Ila traveled to Yuma. Ariz., to be married to her agent, Arthur Lyons. Lyons was born on May 27, 1906, in Russia. Little is known of his early life. He became an talent agent with his brother Sam representing such stars as Joan Crawford, Ida Lupino, Lucille Ball, Ray Milland and Jack Benny.

They started happily, looking for a new house and so, but the marriage was not to last. Lyons and Ila separated in June 1940, and divorced in November 1940, and court awarded her $500 a month for the rest of this year. Lyons remained a prominent agent and producer, and remarried in 1961 to Winifred Gilbert. He died on July 26, 1963.

After her divorce, Ila left Hollywood, hoping to revive her fledgling acting career. She went to New York to act on the legitimate stage. Her first and last role on the stage was in “Goodbye My Love”. Then, in mid 1942, Rhodes met a man at a dinner party in i Washington. In October 1942, they made their relationship public by appearing at the swank 21 club – Ila on the arm of Air Corps Brig. Gen. Bennett Meyers. Meyers was considered quite a catch and Ila was allegedly envied by tons of glamour girls. Meyers was high up in the military and was a powerful man who enjoyed friendships with other powerful men, and it seems that Ila was ready once again to give up acting to take up the mantle of domesticity. On February 14, 1943, they were married at the Marble Collegiate Church.

Here is a bit about Bennett:

Bennett E. Meyers was born in Buffalo, N.Y., in 1895. During World War I he enlisted in the Aviation Section of the Signal Reserve Feb. 2, 1918, and served as a flying cadet until June 22, 1918, when he was commissioned a temporary second lieutenant in the Air Service, serving continuously until he was commissioned in the Regular Army as a second lieutenant, Air Service, to rank from July 1, 1920.

He completed ground school at Berkeley, Calif., and flying school at Rockwell Field, Calif., remaining at the latter station after being commissioned. He transferred to Love Field, Texas, for duty in various staff capacities from July 1919 to November 1920, when he became commanding officer of the Surplus Property District at Detroit, Mich. When this was completed he undertook a similar assignment at Buffalo, N.Y., in the following September, and became commanding officer of the Air Reserve Depot there.

He moved to Luke Field, Hawaii, in September 1923 for intelligence duties until July 1924, when he joined the 23rd Bombardment Squadron. In June 1927 he was transferred to Wright Field, Ohio, for procurement duties. He was away on temporary duty from November 1927 until February 1928 to take the special observation course at the advanced flying school, Kelly Field, Texas. He returned to Wright Field for procurement planning duties, becoming chief of the Plans Division of the Industrial War Plans Section.

He was assigned to the Army Industrial College, Washington, D.C., in September 1929, and graduated in June 1930. He then returned to Wright Field as chief of the Plans Division, Industrial War Plans Section. He was detailed to the Babson Institute, Mass., in September 1931 and graduated in June 1932 with “high distinction” and was valedictorian for the class. He remained there for post graduate work for another school year until June 1933 when he again returned to Wright Field as executive to the Field Service Section. In 1935 he established the Budget Office at that field and was budget officer and chief of that division until September 1940 when he was transferred to the Office of the Chief of Air Corps as assistant executive. He became executive officer of the Materiel Command in that Office in November 1940, and in March 1942 was named deputy to the Assistant Chief of Air Staff of the Army Air Forces.

He assumed command of the Materiel Command, with headquarters at Wright Field, Ohio, in June 1944, and the following month was named Deputy Director, Army Air Forces Materiel and Services at Patterson Field, Ohio (later redesignated Air Technical Service Command, with station at Wright Field, Ohio). In May 1945 he assumed command of the Air Technical Service Command. He retired in the grade of major general.

He was awarded the Distinguished Service Medal and Legion of Merit and was rated a senior pilot, combat observer and technical observer.

He was dismissed from the service of the United States by President Truman July 16, 1948, after conviction of a felony.

Ila and Bennett lived the high life, and had three children: twins Arnold and Damon, born on February 26, 1944, and Ila Jr., born on February 24, 1946. But it seems the salad days were not to last, as Meyers was privy to enough to make himself some dough, on the side, and not in a ethical or indeed legal fashion. Here is the article:

Gen. Bennett K. Meyers. head of the Army Air Force wartime procurement. 1 about to get hit with a bag of wet cement when the Ferguson-Bretr-Hughee war contract Investigation reopens Monday. “Benny” Meyers, m the 48-year-old purchasing official la generally known, will be slapped with a receipted hotel bill, showing . he accepted more than , 11,000 worth of weekend entertainment from vHow-ard Hughes., via his fat bagman, Johnny Meyer. The hotel bill, from the swanky Town House in Los Angeles, will be produced by Senator Homer Ferguson, of Michigan, who will ask the general why he accepted favors from a man who ‘ was trying to get army contracts. General Meyers, who married Ila Rhodes, a movie actress about half his age four years ago, enjoyed a very expensive weekend at the Town House with his wife. The ten shows it was lifted by the ubiquitous Johnny Meyer with one of his famous “okay to pay” notations. Without realizing it, I have been sitting on most .of this story since the Hughes investigation opened early in August.

Ila stood by her husband, getting papped daily in the courtroom, and often being called the general’s ultra sophisticated, very chic younger wife. Guess the publicity wasn’t that good, and Ila came around as quite a shallow money digger – the press obviously twisted the story according to their own agenda. Anyway, Bennett was found guilty on three counts of subornation of perjury, and faces a maximum 30-year prison term. In the end, he was interred in Wasghington, DC.

Ila was under siege after the trial, and she tried to make a normal life for herself and the couple’s children. Sadly, the press didn’t let her – a few months later, she was discovered modeling In a Manhattan fur salon under her maiden name. She was unhappy about the publicity but said she took the job because She needed money to support her three children, and she wanted to be near Washington, D. C., where for one hour each week she is allowed to visit her husband, in jail for perjury. .She allegedly told a reporter: “Jeepers! They didn’t know who I was when they hired me. Maybe Ill be looking for another job tomorrow”. Yep, Ila tried but they were not really forthcoming.

IMDB claims that Ila died on December 10, 2012, in Glass Valley, California.

Clarice Sherry

Clarice Sherry was a promising, talented small town girl reared to become a successful actress. Sadly, despite all of her talent Hollywood just didn’t embrace her and she retired after just a few years of working. Let’s learn more about her.

EARLY LIFE

Clarice Marie Shierry was born on December 21, 1914, in Hawkeye, Iowa, to Leon Shierry and Etta C. Brukhart. She was their only child. Her father was a barber who had his own barber shop, her mother designed hats and dresses (including those worn by her daughter in the future).

The Shierrys spent the first four years of Clarice’s life in Hawkeye, then they lived in Mason City for two years before the family went to Los Angeles, California in 1928, where Clarice attended high school and junior college. A striking blonde, Clarice had  been carefully reared by her parents, with much love. Although she early showed signs of artistic talent, she was not allowed to commercialize it nor to make public appearances during her school life, except in recitals with other pupils. Piano and dancing lessons were part of her education, which was obtained in a Los Angeles private dramatic school.

Due to her beauty, she was chosen to model gowns and to pose for automobile advertisements. Her face has also appeared on magazine covers. In March, 1934, Warner Brothers signed her for her first chorus work, and she has made progress ever since. She appeared in choruses in Dames, North Shore, Sweet Adeline, Gold’ Diggers of 1935, Go Into Your Dance, Sweet -Music and others, then took a voice test in the summer of 1936. That test resulted in a passing grade of 100 per cent, and she went into the speaking parts.

CAREER

Clarice appeared in a string of musical movies as a chorus girl. She was featured in three Sonja Henie movies – One in a Million, Thin Ice and Second Fiddle. Since my dislike of Sonja Henie is more or less obvious if you read this blog, let’s just let it slide.

Other musicals that Clarice appeared in are: The Girl Friend, a totally forgotten Ann Sothern musical, Sing, Baby, Sing, a weak and not very memorable Alice Faye vehicle, Broadway Melody of 1938, a typical pastiche musical with Robert Taylor, playing a non-singing guy, trying to act out a flimsy story about a Broadway producer, but everybody is watching Eleanor Powell, Judy Garland and Sophie Tucker singing and dancing, Kentucky Moonshine, a abysmal Tony Martin musical with the Ritz brothers supplying (or trying to) some minor comedy, Alexander’s Ragtime Band, perhaps the bets musical she made, a Alice Faye/Tyrone Power classic with a great deal of Irving Berlin songs, and Honolulu, a charming Eleanor Powell movie with an idiotic story but good dancing.

Clarice had bigger parts in non musical movies, and if she’s even remembered, it’s for them. We have The Emperor’s Candlesticks, a witty, urbane spy-romance movie with William Powell and Luise Rainer (with that superb pairing, anything goes!), Man-Proof, a champagne comedy with Myrna Loy playing a unhappy in love girl trying to woo the desire of her heart and Franchot Tone trying to stop it (and wooing Myrna, of course), the absolute classic The Women, and Fast and Furious, which, despite it’s intense name, is actually a light murder mystery, with Ann Southern and Franchot Tone’s zany marriage being the core value against a meh plot and a lot of pretty young women in bathing suits (Clarice among them).

Clarice’s last movie deserves a special mention. Flash Gordon Conquers the Universe is a cult classic, as are most Flash Gordon movies. Whatever one may think of Universal series, this one is of a pretty good quality. Buster Crabbe was made to play the heroic Flash Gordon and Charles Middleton makes an incredible Ming. However, it is the action sequences that are the true highlight here. Watch it! Clarice had a small part as Queen Grend,a but at least she’s visible!

That was it from Clarice!

PRIVATE LIFE

Clarice was 5 feet 5 inches tall, and had glorious hair famous around Hollywood. It was pale natural blond, waved slightly and went all the way to her waist. Here is a funny story about Clarice’s adventures in Hollywood:

“It’s a great life if you don’t weaken,” gasped Clarice Sherry, when shooting stopped for a moment on “The Great Ziegfeld’ set the other day “But I’m distinctly wakening.” h added. The i costume she bad on weighed only 102 pounds. It’s for a very elaborate promenade and posing number. It is called “Northern Light” and Is made of 2,000 yards of pleated tulle and 700 large pear-shaped crystals. The former Hawkeye-Mason City girl has to wear special shoulder pads with it

Her private life was very stable. Clarice married Sidney D. Lund, technical executive at Universal studios, in a secret elopement to Reno in 1935. The couple hurried back to Hollywood the next day, so that Clarice could obtain a screen role in a new picture in which she appeared with Melvyn Douglas, Virginia Bruce and Warren William. Afterwards the Lunds establish residence in Los Angeles.

Sidney Lund was born on January 10, 1905, in Los Angeles, California, to Burton Lund and Abby Holt. His parents divorced and both remarried, and he had a maternal half sister and half brother, Mary and Conrad Klemm. He was trained as an electrician and became a movie technician for Universal Studios. He was married once before , to dancer Sada E. Hindman, on May 3, 1930 in Los Angeles. They had no children and enjoyed a very tempestuous marriage with at least one major scandal – in January 1931, Sada accused actress Dorothy Janis with stealing her husband’s love while the pair were making a picture in the South Seas. After much drama, Sada dropped a $25,000 alienation of affection suit. Dorothy and Sidney did not end up together, as she married Wayne King in 1932, so I guess Sada and Sidney made up. After more ups and downs, Sada finally divorced Sidney in 1933, charging desertion, nonsupport and cruelty.

Unlike his first, Sidney’s second marriage worked like a charm. Clarice retired from movie work, and dedicated herself to family life. The couple had a son, Gary Robert, born on October 18, 1940 in Los Angeles. Sidney continued working in the motion industry.

The Lunds enjoyed a happy union, lived in a two stories high residence in North Hollywood, had many good friends and were able to travel widely and saw a great deal of the world. Clarice also painted many beautiful pictures and portraits, and loved Oriental art and gardening.

Clarice Sherry Lond died at the ripe old age of 98 of an aneurysm on October 4, 2012 in Los Angeles. She is interred at Forest Lawn Memorial Park in the Hollywood Hills.

Agnes Craney

Agnes Craney was one of the girls who landed in Hollywood not thanks to her extensive dancing skills, nor her modelling career, nor indeed any acting prowess – she won her entry into Tinsel town via a publicity stunt! As you can imagine, that’s one of the worst ways you can gain entry into movie,s since you have no bankable skills and being pretty just ain’t gonna cut it in the town where hundreds of pretty girls arrive every day. As you can guess, Agnes made only two movies, married and retired to raise a family. Let’s learn more about her! (sorry for not having a close up of Agnes, she is in the photo somewhere!)

EARLY LIFE

Agnes Jane Craney was born in 1917 to George Thomas Craney and Pearl Winifred Morss in Madison, South Dakota. She was the third of four children: her older siblings were a brother, Morris Charles, born in 1911, and a sister Leone, born in 1915. Her younger sister was Rita, born in 1922. Her father worked as a real estate salesman. The family moved to Long Beach in the mid 1920s for her father’s work.

Agnes grew up like any normal, middle class girl in Long Beach,  and attended the Long Beach high school. What set Agnes apart from her peers was her obvious beauty and her star-stuck dream of becoming an Hollywood actress. And something massive happened when Agnes was just 17 years old and a junior in high school. She applied for a “Search for beauty” contest that was promoted all over the US. It was an instant gateway to Hollywood for a few lucky ones who won the coveted title of Beauty.

Agnes and Jack Jenkins, 205-pound Beverly Hills High School star tackle defeated some 100,000 rivals In the contest a “Search for Beauty.”, and they were awarded contracts with the Paramount film company as a result of the proceedings. It was noted that Agnes’ measurements most nearly correspond to the average of the fifteen most beautiful girls. She Is more slender, more graceful and more compact than the ancient Grecian goddess of love, Aphrodite, just as Jack was bigger than Apollo. How did they know the measurements of Aphrodite and Apollo is left open for debate, but it’s a publicity ploy much like any other from that time.

It appeared that Agnes was slated for big things in Hollywood, and her career started!

CAREER

Agnes appeared in only two movies in her career. The first one was Search for Beauty, the movie that was more ballyhooed in the press and in the beauty pageant circuits than it has any artistically or indeed any merit. But there is plenty of nude girls, sexy dances and sensual stuff if one likes it. Never again will classical Hollywood make such carnal musicals, with such visceral scenery and atmosphere. Ah, Busby Berkeley and his kind although he didn’t make this movie)! Agnes played one of the beauty winners of course.

8 Girls in a Boat is a more interesting fare. While not a masterpiece by any stretch of imagination, it’s a solid movie dealing with a topic Hollywood made taboo after the production code was kicked in high gear – unwanted underage pregnancy. Dorothy Wilson is a student at an exclusive girl’s school, and a member of the shell racing crew (hence the 8 girls in a boat). She gets pregnant by chemistry student Douglass Montgomery, but he doesn’t have no money to marry her. The movie deals with the aftermath of this situation, and featured Kay Johnson as a sadistic, brutal rowing teacher, a acting highlight of the movie. Dorothy Wilson, a much underrated actress, is very good in the leading role, but sadly Agnes played one of the school girls and is very blink and you’ll miss her.

And that was it from Agnes!

PRIVATE LIFE

Agnes gave a beauty hint to the papers:

I find exercise one of the most important factors in keeping the figure beautiful and the body fit. Swimming is my favorite exercise. But, in swimming, es in ether forms of sports care must be taken not to over-do. Too much swimming may over-develop the muscles.

Let’s reflect on the way Agnes got into Hollywood. While the Search for Beauty did give us one wonderful actress (Ann Sheridan), the bigger question is were these kind of pageants harmful for people int he long run? It seems to me they were. They gave false hopes to a plethora of young, inexperienced people, who had little to recommend themselves, that they can make it. And they can, but everything is stacked against them. While I am sorry to be perhaps a bit harsh, but the majority of girls who came to Hollywood because they looked good did not have an ounce of acting talent, and often did not work even one iota to posiblys remedy this disadvantage. They would last for a few months at most, then had to find other jobs, go back home, maybe be ostracized and generally suffer a period of depression since their dreams didn’t’ come true. Of course, it’s impossible to generalize, but this happened to more than 90% hopefuls who came to Hollywood in the 1930s, and most girls on this blog shared such a fate. We can have nothing but respect for any girl who has enough grit and guts to leave home and try to be something but a housewife, plunging head on to Tinsel town and hoping for the best was like trying to win a lottery. A few lucky ones would make it, most of them would not. Point is, it was much better to be a trained actor with some experience if you wanted to make it. Even if Hollywood rejected you, you could always do theater, summer stock and so on. Looking good usually isn’t enough, even for such a shallow town like Hollywood was (and still is).

Back to Agnes. Agnes married Wiliam Norton Hilliard on July 14, 1936, in Los Angeles. Hilliard was born on June 6, 1912, to Salvester Elven Hilliard and Emily Crave Norton in Colorado, the second of four children (his siblings were Charles, born in October 17, 1908, Eleanore, born on August 18, 1918, and Richard Francis, born on June 2, 1921). his father was a building contractor, and the family lived in Iowa for a time, before moving to California, where Hilliard started to work.

Hilliard was a store minder for oil supply machinery. The couple had three sons: William Norton, born on May 39, 1938, Gerald Thomas, born on January 4, 1940, and Michael John, born on May 25, 1948. After living for years in California, they moved for Hilliard’s work to Texas, where they stayed after William retired.

Agnes Craney Hilliard died on November 19, 1989, in Montgomery County, Texas.
Willian Norton Hilliard died on November 15, 2007 in Conroe, Texas.