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!
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!
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!
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.