Irene Bennett


Most of the actresses I profile on this side had a dismal career but led normal, happy lives – they had other careers, got married, had children and so on. One has to wonder if such a “happy ending” is applicable to actresses like Irene Bennett, or can we call them tragic? Let’s learn more about Irene…

EARLY LIFE

Irene Opal Horsley was born on December 17, 1913, in Marshall, Logan, Oklahoma, to Calvin Horsley and Margaret Frances Bennett. Irene came from a very big, tight knit family. She was their fourth child – her older sisters were Velva Verona, born on September 4, 1905, Velora Mildred, born on April 22, 1908 and Doris Pauline, born on June 18, 1910. Five more children would follow after Irene – twins, a son, Ray, and a daughter, Elaine Margaret, born on October 25, 1915, Elizabeth “Bette”, born on January 11, 1918, Virginia “Bobbie” Kate born in 1919, and the baby of the family, Quinton Roosevelt, born on June/January 6, 1920. Later in life, Irene would claim that her mother was the first white child born in the Cherokee strip of Oklahoma.

The family moved from Marshall to Enid, Oklahoma, in about 1917. Irene and her siblings grew up , attended and graduated from high school there.

Irene came to Hollywood twice. The first time was in 1935, as a beauty-contest winner in the Tri-State cotton festival at Memphis, Tenn. Approached a local merchant who was so struck by her beauty that he invited her to ride his float in the Cotton Carnival parade. She accepted, unaware that the parade was also a beauty contest. She won the contest and then followed the inevitable trip to Hollywood with a try at the movies. The customary rounds; the usual publicity; the unavoidable result nobody paid much heed to Irene. “But nothing happened,” she said of the experience later “so I went back to selling magazines.”

The second time was much more fruitful. As a professional saleslady, she came to a movie studio to sell magazines. She said she was known from coast to coast as “The Magazine Girl,” having conducted her subscription campaigns in thirty -three states. She listed among her clients Gov. Albert Ritchie of Maryland, and Gov. Frank Merriam of California. “I always go right to the front office,” Irene explained. But Irene couldn’t get to the front office at Paramount studio. A cordon of alert secretaries stopped her. So the only executive she was able to contact was John Votion, head of the studio talent department. He told her he did not want any magazines. But he did offer her a contract and she accepted. She become a member of the studio “stock” company to gain experience and changed her name to Irene Bennett.

And Irene was off!

CAREER

Irene’s first movie was Too Many Parents, a not-bad-at-all drama about the boys who are sent to military school in order to get them out of the way of their too-busy-to-bother parents or guardians. Special plus is seeing Frances Farmer in an early role. Her next movie was the completely forgotten Sky Parade, an aviation move with Katherine DeMille and William Gargan. Then Irene appeared in Florida Special, a run of the mill crime movie with Jackie Oakie as a worldly journalist trying to stop a train robbery. Yawn! Been there, seen that at least a hundred times…

She next appeared in Poppy, a W.C. Fields movie and only Fields makes it worth watching (at all). While I understand that he’s the main character, a movie can’t be that good if it’s absolutely boring when the lead is not on-camera. Beats me why they always paired Fields with 3 Bs (blond, bland and boring) supporting actors with according story-lines. After this comedy came another comedy, My American Wife,  another almost lost movie. After that we have Lady Be Careful , which goes into the same bracket of lost movies.

Irene had another uncredited role in Easy to Take, another completely forgotten movie with Marsha Hunt and John Howard. Irene’s next movie is perhaps the bets known on her filmography – The Plainsman , one of the few A budget westerns from the 1930s. Before one wonders why somebody decided to make such a western – the answer is simple – Cecil B. DeMille wanted a epic movie and got one set in the Wild West. Like most DeMille’s movies, it’s meticulously and elegantly done, very much stamped by the old master’s unique and easily recognizable style. Yes, the story is historically inaccurate and over-the-top, but the acting is great (Gary Cooper and Jean Arthur are always a good combo), and the stunts are amazing! One should watch it more for its grandiose and epic feeling, western style, than for any true substance.

The Accusing Finger is perhaps the perfect low budget classic movie from the 1930s – it’s socially conscious, with a solid story, dramatic but not overly theatrical moments and a good cast. The story concerns a attorney who sent quite a lot of people on the death row just to end up there himself. And a true transformation occurs. I see this movie as proof of how little it takes to make a very good movie if you have all the technical and logistical things in order – a heartfelt story and a message you want to convey. For a low budget quickie, this is a true winner! Kudos to Paul Kelly and Marsha Hunt in the leading roles.

Then came another completely forgotten movie, Hideaway Girl. Irene’s last movie, Champagne Waltz , was a mid tier musical with the boring old music vs. new music plot. The plus side is hearing Gladys Swarthout sing opera and see Fred MacMurray playing a band leader, something he was before he became an actor (I never knew that!!!).

Unfortunately, Irene’s career ended after this.

PRIVATE LIFE

Irene married Carlton L. Burnham on July 9, 1929, when she was just 15 years old. Carlton was born in 1912 in Mississippi. They divorced in February 28, 1935.

While she was in Hollywood, she enjoyed the well known pastime of rowing but only on a rowing machine. She also frequented the gym of her home studio.

In March 1936, not long after she came to Hollywood, there was this notice in the papers:

Irene Bennett, Actress, Sues Doctor f or $500,000 Hollywood, Cal., March 31. (Special.- Irene Bennett, movie actress, today filed a suit against Dr. H. J. Strathcarn, studio physician at Paramount studio, for $500,000 damages. She alleged improper medical treatment. She asserts that when she came in need of medical treatment the studio referred her to Dr. Strathcarn, that he failed to diagnose her ailment until it was loo late. She said she contracted tuberculosis. Her real name Is Irene Bennett Horsley of Enid, Okla.. who came lo Hollywood after winning a Memphis, Tenn,, beauty contest.

The article was son forgotten in a small flurry of other articles about Irene:

  • March 1936: Irene Bennett dancing with Viscount Roger Halgouet. son of the wealthy French diplomat at Cocoanut Grove
  • April 1936: Joan Bennett and Gene Markey, Irene Bennett and the Charles Buttorworths week -ending at Palm Springs.
  • May 1936: Styled in Hollywood Irene Bennett, Paramount starlet, appearing with George Raft , and Dolores Cotello Barrymore in “Yours for the Asking.” sent her younger sister a dress for the latter’s graduation from the Enid (Okla.) High School.
  • August 1936:  Irene Bennett is going places with Tom Monroe, Paramount scribbler
  • September 1936: Jackson, Mississippi –  Among them were Miss Irene Bennett, formerly of this city. Mr. Champion” reports that Miss Bennett is well on her way to stardom, having played several leading roles in recent pictures. Miss Bennett has many friends in Jackson who will be pleased to know of her splendid success in pictures.
  • Luckiest player of the week in Irene Bennett, who had her option taken up the other day by Paramount and who climaxed the day by this shivery experience. She left her chair on the “Chinese Gold” set to go to the photograph gallery for a few minutes. While she was gone, a heavy sun-arc toppled over, crashing down on tho chair where Irene would have been sitting but for her lucky break. w1 noon off.”

For six months, she was trained in the Paramount dramatic school, meanwhile playing brief “bits” in a number of pictures, “The Milky Way,” “Poppy,” “Yours for the Asking,” and last of all, “Easy to Take.” At the end of the period, her contract was not renewed. During that time, she supported her mother, Mrs. Calvin Horsley, and her sister, Elaine.

Why? In November 1936:was reported to be in a Hollywood sanitarium dangerously ill of tuberculosis. A purse of $1000 was collected for her when it was learned she was without funds. Here is a brief article about it:

Irene Bennett, the pretty Oklahoma girl who was Hollywood’s biggest success story six months ago, is in a sanitarium today, dangerously ill. Her physician, Dr. H. A. Putnam, says she is facing a long .and uncertain fight for her life. What was worse, her dreams of a movie career ended abruptly several weeks before she became ill. Friends said they understood she is without funds. Having been in the movie studios less than a year, she is ineligible for aid from organized Hollywood charities. A purse of 1OOO$ has been collected at Paramount Studios, where she was under contract, to pay her expenses for a time at the sanitarium. Irene Bennett’s true name is Irene Horsley.

Irene went on to live in. Unfortunately, she slowly wasted away, living in a care assisted facility, with was no cure for her malady.

Irene Bennett Horsley died on August 25, 1941, in Los Angeles, California, from tuberculosis. She was buried in the family plot in Oklahoma.

Constance Weiler

Unfortunately, there is a shortage of information about the lovely Constance Weilver, and this is going to be one slim post, so bear with me. While I dislike writing short posts, I fell in love with the above photo of Constance, and I just had to profile her. So let’s learn more!

EARLY LIFE

Constance Ellen Uttenweiler was born on September 17, 1918,in Toronto, Canada to Lebret Joseph Uttenweiler and Mable Wilson. Her older sister Bernice was born on May 11, 1917. Her younger brother Robert would be born in 1921. Her father was American, born in Michigan, her mother was a Canadian. The family lived in Toronto, where Constance spent her early years.

On April 30, 1927 at the age of 8 she immigrated to the US with her parents, arriving in Detroit by boat. They went to live with their paternal grandfather, Robert Wilson, in Detroit, Michigan.

In April 1929, her parents divorced, and a few days later her mother married Joseph Kirzinger. Two more children were born of this union (son Lawrence and daughter Iris). Only young Robert went to live with the Kirzinger newlyweds – the sisters remained with their dad and lived in Detroit (I wonder how the story went – why didn’t Bernice and Constance go on to live with the Kirzingers and Robert did? Smells like an unusual story!)

At some point, Constance landed in New York and found work there as a theater receptionist (have no idea which theater). Constance was signed to a term contract with MGM after talent scouts spotted her in a New York night spot in 1943.

CAREER

Connie signed with MGM, the most prestigious studio at the time, and made her debut in 1943 in The Man from Down Under, a Charles Laughton movie. In many ways, it’s a typical wartime propaganda movie – on the other hand, in many ways it’s not a typical propaganda movie. What makes it stand out, if only so slightly, is the fact that it deals directly with Australians and their bit in WW2. Tell me named of three movies about Australia from the golden age of hollywood. You see, hardly any springs to mind. Constance’s second movie was the more prominent I Dood It, a Red Skelton comedy classic.

Constance then made a string of well-regarded musicals – Broadway Rhythm and Bathing Beauty. No story, little character development, lots of singing and dancing. Constance returned to propaganda movies with This Man’s Navy, about  U.S. Naval Airships (Blimps) and featuring Tom Drake, who for a time seemed like the hot new thing then faded quickly into obscurity.

During this time, Constance was featured in several movies by the great but troubled actor, Robert Walker – The Clock (a superb, intimate drama with Walker and Judy Garland), Her Highness and the Bellboy (a so-so musical about a princess, played by Hedy Lamarr, and the unrequited crush the hotel bellhop, played by Walker, harbours towards her).

In 1946, the war was over and Constance’s career entered a new phase. Her first post war movie was Up Goes Maisie, a continuation of the adventures of brassy showgirl Maisie (played by Ann Sothern). Constance continued appearing in high quality movies that never hit top-tier. Meaning, she never acted in a movie that ended up a classic, but she did work in solid movies with a solid if sometimes phenomenal cast.

Such two movies were The Hoodlum Saint, a morality tale about a WW1 vet (played by William Powell) who will do anything to get rich (and the consequences of his actions) and Two Smart People, an unusual noir romance film, directed by Jules Dassin and headed by John Hodiak and Lucille Ball as two con artists in love.

The Arnelo Affair is actually a mediocre effort somehow undermined by the wooden acting of the female lead, Frances Gifford. The story is the same old cautionary tale for wives – don’t cheat on your husbands, and if you do… Well, you get the picture. John Hodiak is solid as the “bad guy”/affair of the title, and Eve Arden and Dean Stockwell are wasted in sub par roles. MGM could definitely do better than this! Sadly, It Happened in Brooklyn, her next movie, wasn’t quite the high quality movie to follow-up on a dismal one. It’s a nice enough musical, but the story and characters, being paper-thin, weight it down tremendously. Good musicals should have a simple but effective story, not some pastiche

Constance had a minor role (literary) in The Beginning or the End, a docudrama about the atomic bomb (and again shared the screen with Robert Walker).

Constance’s last movie made under the MGM helm was The Romance of Rosy Ridge, perhaps the most superior film of the post-war lot. Why? Well, for one thing, it deals with subjects that Hollywood often tended to avoid – the post-war animosity and hatred that still burns deep in the people. While it was made post-WW2, the plot is set after the American civil war, and illustrates nicely how people lived in Missouri in the mid 19th century. it’s surprisingly authentic for a Hollywood production of the 1940s, and despite a few song and dance numbers, never falls into the sappy/sweet routine. The leads are played by the young, fresh-faced Janet Leigh and Van Johnson – a good combo!

I guess Constance went freelancing, but appeared in only two more movies – a great one and a sadly lukewarm one. The great one was The Asphalt Jungle, a top-notch heist film, dark, gritty, intense, one of the best movies John Huston made. The lukewarm one was Three Guys Named Mike, a fluffy and brain-dead rom com with Jane Wyman as a stewardess who has to choose between three guys named Mike. It’s much better than most rom-coms today, mind you, still not enough to warrant a second look.

And that was it from Constance!

PRIVATE LIFE

This here is pretty thin. There were no articles about her love life, so I can’t say whom she dated while in Hollywood in the early 1940s… However, there was a short article about her in 1946:

Constance Weiler, on the set of “The Postman Always Rings Twice,” telling John Garfield and Leon Ames the thrill of flying one’s own plane. After six weeks, she’s just made her first solo hop. The payoff is she can fly a plane but doesn’t yet know how to drive an automobile.

Funny, she never appeared in the movie, at least it’s not among her credits. Constance’s career effectively ended in 1947, although she did bits and pieces afterwards, from 1946 onwards, there were no mentions of her in the papers.

Next thing we know, Constance married Douglas la Franco on June 7, 1957, in Los Angeles. Her career had been over for almost a decade by then, and she was consistently out of the limelight. Anyway, La Franco was born on September 25, 1929 to Ceferino la Franco and Edna Pullion. His father was from the Phillipines, his mother from Oregon (what a combo!). He grew up in California and was never married before he wed Constance.

Unfortunately, the marriage lasted a very short time, and they divorced in 1959. They did not have any children. In 1960, Douglas married his second wife, Pearl Colberg. Constance did not remarry and lived for the rest of her life in San Francisco.

Constance Weiler died on December 10, 1965 in San Francisco, California. Constance’s former husband, Douglas la Franco, died in 2006.

Beryl McCutcheon

Cute looking, round-raced Beryl McCutcheon got into acting by mistake, and – like most girls who never had a theatrical background and thought that their looks were enough to pull them trough – never left the uncredited roster. To her credit (haha, pun intended!), she was persistent and made two come backs – too bad it didn’t work out well enough to warrant a solid career. Let’s learn more about her.

EARLY LIFE

Beryl McCutcheon was born in 1925, in Little Rock, Arkansas, to James McCutcheon and Robbie Day. Her father, who worked as a building painter, was originally from Wisconsin. In the late 1900s, He moved to Louisiana where he met Beryl’s mother, married her, and started a family. For business purposes, the couple moved to Canada – their daughter Ione was born there in 1915. By 1920, they were back in the States. Two children were born in Louisiana: a son, David, in 1923, and a daughter, Lois, in 1924. They then moved to Little Rock where Beryl was born.

Her family moved to Los Angeles, California, just a few short months after Beryl’s birth. Her younger sister, Joanne Patricia, was born there on August 5, 1931. Beryl grew up in Los Angeles and attended high school there. She had no big dreams of becoming an actress – but fate had other plans for her.

The year was 1943 and war was raging all over the world. Beryl had just graduated from high school. Her older brother David worked as a messenger boy at MGM. Unfortunately, messenger boy jobs were soon vacated by war – david, like many others, was called to fight. When messenger boys became scarce, MGM producers naturally replaced them with girls. Thus, Beryl took the David’s place when he joined the U. S. Coast Guard.

She wasn’t on the job long before famous hoofer Gene Kelly noticed her and recognized major potential in her – MGM tested her, she passed the screen test and ultimately won a contract. So, Beryl’s adventure started.

CAREER

Beryl made her debut in a variety musical, Broadway Rhythm. No story, no depth, no acting, just singing and dancing. IMHO, meh. Beryl marched on. Due to her slight age, she was then cast as a Co-ed in Bathing Beauty, a insanely popular Esther Williams picture with a thin plot but plenty of swimming, eye candy and comedy. They don’t make them like this anymore!

For the rest of her MGM tenure, Beryl mixed drama with musical movies, perfectly illustrating what MGM was all about in the 1940s and 1950s. She was in Marriage Is a Private Affair, a lukewarm Lana Turner vehicle – the movie made sense during the war, when women married servicemen on a whim and were hard to accommodate to a completely new, austere way of life, but seen today, it’s a feeble drama. Lana is not dramatic talent to be sure, but she had the sass and the elegance ot make her a star – and she was very pretty when she was young (unfortunately, she didn’t age too well).

Much better was Beryl’s next movie, Thirty Seconds Over Tokyo, a superb example of what a war movie should look like. It has everything – good actors, a sturdy plot, and a positive message to boost your moral. Beryl’s next movie, The Clock, was equally as good – just on a different level. It was a more intimate war movie – about two people who meet just before one is to be shipped overseas to fight- with a powerful emotional momentum and two unlikely but perfectly cast stars – Robert Walker (whom I always remember as the psycho from Stranger in  Train – I know, not fair to this talented actor, but he was tops in the role) and Judy Garland, in one of her rare non-musical roles.

Beryl was back to fluffier, easier fare with Thrill of a Romance, another Escther Williams musical. If you like water extravaganzas, this is for you! Next came The Hoodlum Saint, an unusual try to make another Thin Man – the plot is about a newspaper reporter who tires to go back to normal life after WW1.  However, it doesn’t quite click. The male lead is the same William Powell, but it’s 20+ years later and his Nora is not Myrna Loy but rather Esther Williams, who was 30 years younger than William. Not a good pairing at any rate. However, the movie has some saving graces – the supporting cast is wonderful (Angela Lansbury, Lewis Stone, Rags Ragland, Slim Summerville) and the overall feeling of the movie is solid.

Beryl was back in the musical saddle with the classic, Till the Clouds Roll By. Afterwards, she left movies to get married, but that was not the end.

Beryl returned to movies after a 7 year hiatus in 1953. She then appeared in Glory Alley, a muddled mess of a movie about a crooked boxer and his trials and retribution. it’s the kind of movie that tries to be everything at the same time – a serious drama, a breezy comedy and a simple sports film. Like most tries at mix and matching genres, it fails miserably. We actually have great actors in it –  Ralph Meeker, the best Mike Hammer IMHO, and the alluringly gamine Leslie Caron, and a top director – Raoul Walsh – but it just doesn’t work. It seems like everybody is lost and has no idea what there doing – only the flimsy script keeps that on track.

Then came Dream Wife – I love this movie despite the pretty abysmal reviews. I watched it twice and it was nice, easy and funny – exactly what a movie of that caliber should be. It ain’t a masterpiece but who’s asking for it anyway? Cary Grant plays himself and Deborah Kerr plays herself – and they are pretty good at it. And Betta St. John is gorgeous beyond words! Just simply watch it! Beryl had the fortunate opportunity to appear in How to Marry a Millionaire, a beloved classic that needs no introduction. Ah, those candy-sweet, Technicolor movies, gotta love them!

Betty took another breather, and made only one more movie 3 years later – Ransom!, a superb thrilled where Glenn Ford and Donna Reed play parents of a boy who has been kidnapped and held for ransom. It’s a tight, well plotted movie without  a minute to lose – and very emotionally intense. Both leads are great in their roles. Watch!

After some minor TV work Beryl retired from acting for good.

PRIVATE LIFE

Beryl married her first husband, Robert Joseph Kindelon, on October 24, 1946.

Robert Joseph Kindelon was born on July 26, 1919, to Joseph Kindelon and Mary Ellis. His father was an oil well supply salesman. He was the oldest of three boys (other two were Ellis and Richard). Robert was movie struck from early childhood, working as a movie usher and attending college ta the same time. After graduating, he found work on the MGM lot as a casting clerk. There he met Beryl, and the rest is history!

The couple had two sons: Patrick Joseph, born on August 26, 1947, and James Ellis, born on December 23, 1949. The family lived in Los Angeles, where Robert was in the casting business – he left MGM at some point and opened his own casting agency, Independent Casting of Hollywood. He merged with several other smaller casting agencies,  like Artist Casting over the years. Robert’s brother Richard also became a succesful casting director and moved to Hawaii where he worked on Hawaii 5-0.

The Kindelons divorced in the mid 1950s. Robert remarried in 1960 and died on February 22, 1981 in California.

I could not trace Beryl’s fate afterwards with a 100% accuracy, but it seems she didn’t remarry, that she lived in Culver City at some point and died in Ventura County, California, in 2014.

 

Marbeth Wright

marbeth-wright

Pretty, well-built and with a fine singing voice, Marbeth Wright was just 14 when she signed her first contract and hope for the best. For whatever reason, her movie career never got oft he ground – however she found luck in other revues of showbiz and achieved a better career in Europe.

EARLY LIFE

Marbeth Wright was born on July 9, 1915, in Crawford, Texas, to James C. Wright and Mabel Anderson, their only child. Her father was a police officer. The family moved to Los Angeles, California sometime after 1920, and Marbeth grew up and attended school there.

Marbeth started performing at the tender age of 11 – on a gathering in her home town,  she sang popular songs, including “Honey Bunch,” “What a Man’ and several others, and won much applause for her skills. She was bitten by the showbiz bug, and there was no other path – she would become an actress. Although only 11 years old, she started working hard to achieve her dreams, and from then on was a regular at the pageant and dancing scenes.

Marbeth won Cecil De DeMille’s personality Contest, actually a lure to find new talent they could exploit in movies. Marbeth was allegedly Miss Los Angeles in 1928, which would make her only 13 years old when she won the title. Was that even legal? Yet, all the documents attest that she was born in 1915. Weird. I would put her at least in 1913, if not 1912. After winning this title, the doors to Hollywood were wide open for the beautiful girl, and she signed a studio contract in 1929 and started her career the same year.

CAREER

After three silent films that I won’t cover here (The Great Gabbo, Happy Days and The Bridge), Marbeth appeared in Just Imagine, one of the most bizarre movies to get out of Hollywood. The forced and generally unfunny comedian, El Brendel, plays a normal guy (huh, touch luck with calling his humor normal) who is struck by lightning in 1930, and winds up in 1980 New York. And you imagine how people in 1930 imagined 1980! They sure didn’t expect the shoulder pads and the hair spray! Needless to say, it’s campy, it’s ridiculous and it’s so bad it’s good! As one reviewer wrote, “There are relays of airplane roads above the city, babies are dropped from coin fed machines, and outfits are made reversible for day and evening wear.” Don’t tell me you don’t want to see this!

marbeth-wright-01Marbeth next appeared in The Trial of Vivienne Ware, a well made and sturdy drama with Joan Bennett as the innocent female lead, pushed into a nasty court trial. She was again a dancer in It’s Great to Be Alive, another bizarre one. The plot already goes south in the first sentence: An aviator who crash landed on an island in the South Pacific returns home to find that he is the last fertile man left on Earth after an epidemic of masculitus. A reviewer wrote about it on IMDB: “It’s Great to Be Alive” is one of the weirdest movies I’ve ever seen. It’s a science-fiction comedy, similar in spirit to “Just Imagine” (1930), although not quite as musicalised. This is a dumb movie, but it’s so cheerful in its mindlessness that you’ll have a good time watching it …. What more do I need to say? Hollywood sure made some very strange movies back in the day.

Marbeth took a hiatus from movies – I have no idea what exactly was she doing, I always suspect, when an actresses disappears, that she got married and then divorced, but perhaps this is not the case with her. When she returned in 1935, she appeared in The Lottery Lover, a conventional and only average movie about the misadventures of military cadets in Paris. Like most movies set in Paris in the 1930s, it features the Folies Bergere prominently. Lavish costumes and great sets can’t manage to save a dull script and insipid story.

Guess what? Marbeth then appeared in a movie aptly titled Folies Bergère de Paris. And guess what again? The movie is actually not a bad one. Headed by the effortlessly charming Maurice Chevalier (the king of precode, oh la la), it’s a story about an entertainer impersonates a banker who looks just like him, causing confusion for the bankers wife and his girlfriend. It has all the right ingredients – the witty banter, good music and decent actors. She continued her dancing output in George White’s 1935 Scandals, a typical George White movie, full of pretty girls dancing and with little to no plot.

Marbeth appeared in another idiotic musical, and that movie is truly and well forgotten, Redheads on Parade. Next, she was not a dancer but rather a secretary in The Girl Friend, only a modesty funny comedy with Ann Sothern, Jack Haley and Roger Pryor. Nothing to write home about! She finished her movie career with Music Is Magic – this is officially an Alice Faye movie, the true star is  Bebe Daniels, a 34-year-old star who refuses to acknowledge that her prime is past that she must choose roles in accordance to her advanced age! I cannot stress enough how this movie shows, unintentionally, how Hollywood treats women. While I’m the first to say that casting people who are too old for some roles is not a perfect solution, the lack of substantial roles for women above 35 years of age is alarming. And Daniels, still beautiful and with tons of charisma, is a better actress than the younger Faye and truly steals the show.

Marbeth moved to other forms of showbiz, and never made another movie.

PRIVATE LIFE

Marbeth was 5’5” tall, and tried to get into the papers like any dutiful starlet tries, but she never caused a scandal or sensation. It was her baking skills that got her into the papers in 1929 – she baked a very nice bread man for a culinary fair.

Marbeth also gave a handy beauty hint to readers:

An alluring note is added to light summer gowns by the use of fresh flowers in the hair. A cluster of mess rosebuds, gardenias, or a pink camellia is especially attractive.

Marbeth’s life gets interesting in about 1936, when she was allegedly summoned to Maurice Chevalier to appear with him in a revue show in Paris. The story goes like this (taken from a contemporary newspaper):

Marbeth Wright has signed a contract to go to Paris and appear at the Casino there and also play in a picture with Maurice Chevalier. I’m not saying there’s a romance, but I hear Maurice selected this young lady, who played Just a bit in “Folles Bergere,” as the object of his special attention when they were making the picture and chose her also for the new Job.

marbeth-wright-3I was highly suspicions of this story. Chevalier, one of the most famous stars in the world, asking for a complete unknown for a co-star, and he’s not even a friend or a lover? While possible, I doubted this very much. However, after some digging around, I found out something that could be reason – it seems that Marbeth was involved, romantically of course, with Max Rippo, who was at the time Chavelier’s secretary. Now, this makes much more sense – Rippo recommended his lover to Chevalier, he obviously liked what he saw and signed her. This way I guess Rippo and Marbeth could continue their liaison in Paris.

Marbeth sailed for Paris in 1936, and stayed there for the next three years,  singing in the Monte Cristo casino. If we only knew what other stories of Paris Marbeth could have told us…

Marbeth only returned to US in mid 1939, when it became absolutely clear that bad times were looming over Europe – she returned to Los Angeles, where her parents lived, but she did not sign a contract with any studio nor did any nightclub work. One has to wonder what happened to Marbeth? Why the termination of her career? Could there be a revival?

Unfortunately, there was to be no revival. Marbeth Wright died from a dental infection on September 17, 1939, 16 days after was declared in Europe . She was just 24 years old, and we can say that it was a tragedy she died so young.

Maxine Reiner

Maxine1

Maxine Reiner was a gorgeous model who came to Hollywood with the sole intention of making it as an actress. Her looks warranted her a contract, but we all know that’s only a starting point for something more substantial. After some uncredited bits, she was given a prominent role in a movie series and it was either make or break – sadly, she did not make the grade and her career ended not long after.

EARLY LIFE

Maxine Frances Reiner was born on March 16, 1916, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, to Bernard Reiner and Ida Eisenberg. Her younger sister Naomi was born in 1923. Maxine grew up in Philadelphia and attended schools there.

During her high school years, to make some money, Maxine worked as a model in Philadelphia. She was best known for the cigarette ads (despite the fact that she never smoked). Upon graduation, her father gifted her with a train ticket to Los Angeles. Piqued by the light of Hollywood, she left for the West coast with her mother and sister. She did the usual studio rounds, but no luck. Then, one day, an agent was reviewing a screen test trying to decide will he sign an actress of not. Maxine was in the same screen test – the agent finally decided to sign Maxine and not the girl he was originally . She got a contract with Universal Studios and started her career.

CAREER

Maxine was uncredited in her first feature, Wanderer of the Wasteland, a forgotten movie based on a Zane Grey novel. The cast is good enough for sure (Dean Jagger and Gail Patrick in the leads), but MaxineReiner5there is nothing further I can say about the movie. She had another uncredited role in Professional Soldier, a fun and delightful romp, a perfect Sunday afternoon movie. The plot is simple enough – Former real-life mercenary Victor McLaglen plays a professional soldier who is hired to kidnap the Russian king, Peter II, but he gets much more than he bargained for in Freddie Bartholomew (who play Peter). it’s not about the plot for sure – it’s about the great interplay between McLagen and Bartholomew, the fast and elegant action scenes, and witty dialogue. Rita Hayworth and Maxine play gypsy dancers.

She continued her uncredited adventure with It Had to Happen, one of the less known George Raft movies. He plays an Italian immigrant who makes it big in America. Same old, same old story. Rosalind Russell plays the female lead. Nothing to yawn about.

Maxine struck cinematic gold that catapulted her out of the uncredited pool with Charlie Chan at the Circus. Was it the best way to become a star? Heck no, but it was a god start. What can I say about Charlie Chan movies?  Like most movie serials, they were made on a shoestring budget and with mediocre writing, and this particular entry is a mid tier one. Some love it, some find it uninteresting, but it’s enjoyable any way you look at it. Charlie Chan is, as the title suggests, in the circus and gets embroiled in the complex behind the scenes hierarchy. Maxine plays a trapeze artist. What was supposed to be her ticket to stardom only buried her further. Maxine did no make the grade, and her roles suffered.

MaxineReiner3She had a smaller role in Sins of Man, a long-winded, heavy drama with Don Ameche playing dual roles of two brothers. It’s more or less completely forgotten today.

Maxine had a slightly more prominent role in The Girl on the Front Page, a Gloria Stuart vehicle where she plays a rich girl who starts to work at her dad’s paper incognito and managed to bust a counterfeit ring. While I love a heroine who is proactive and does things, the rich girl going to work narrative is a bit boring, I have to admit. Yet Gloria is such a lovely presence, you can forgive some plot holes.

Maxine’s last movie was Flying Hostess, a movie about the lives and loves of airline stewardesses (they were called flying hostesses back in the 1930s). It’s a pretty minor, forgotten movie. Aware that her career was going nowhere, Maxine gave up her contract to become a wife and later, mother.

PRIVATE LIFE

Maxine was a budding novelist, and wrote the novel Stranger in Manhattan in 1935. It deals with the sophisticated life in New York. I have no idea if it was ever published, but it’s never bad to write, so kudos to Maxine.

MaxineReiner4Maxine married Joseph “Joe” I. Myerson on July 11, 1935, in an orthodox ceremony in Los Angeles. The studio gave her two weeks to go on a honeymoon. Joe was born on December 6, 1905, to Victor Myerson and Ida Hoffman, the fifth of six children. He grew up in California but moved to Yuma, Arizona in the late 1920s. He returned to Los Angeles in the mid 1930s and worked as a wholesale clothing merchant.

The marriage ended in a separation on October 18. They finally hit the divorce courts in February 1936, where she asked for separate maintenance and he claimed that it’s stupid to pay her alimony since she earned more than him. Finally, she was awarded $185 a month alimony.

Myerson remarried to Jean Morantz on June 20, 1937. He died on December 1986, in Pima, Arizona.

Maxine married Harry Eliot Sokolov on April 29, 1937. The couple waited for two months to reveal their marriage to the press. Harry was born on December 23, 1899 in Baltimore, Maryland to Jacob Sokolov and Anita Azrael, second of seven children. He graduated from Central High School in Washington DC. In 1921, while studying law, he helped organize an eight piece orchestra that was to stage a George Washington musical. In 1925, he and his brother opened a Realty Corporation in Brooklyn. He became a practicing attorney and moved to Los Angeles after 1930. He and Maxine lived in Beverly Hills.

Maxine2Now, something more about her husband. In 1939, he, along with several other luminaries, founded the Producers Corporation of America.  Harry Sokolov was a very active and energetic man who served as an attorney to several stars (Patsy Ruth Miller comes to mind), was the CEO to Harry Sokolov and Sons, a construction company, and later became an executive producer at 20th Century Fox and close associate of Richard Zanuck. He also was a member of the advisory board of the California State Park Foundation and a member of the California Superior Court Arbitrators.

On January 22, 1943, the Sokolov’s only child, son Thomas Reiner Sokolov, was born. Maxine’s sister Naomi lived with them until her own marriage the same year. Maxine was active in the local social life and dedicated a lot of her time to charitable causes.

The couple divorced at some point before 1956. Sokolov died in 1977.

Maxine married Frank Maury Grossman on August 5, 1956. He was born in January 21, 1915 in Canada, to Harry Gorssman and Florence Claman. They divorced afterwards. Grossman died on June 16, 1988.

Maxine Frances Reiner died on June 19, 2003, in Los Angeles, California.

Mildred Coles

Mildred Coles2

Pretty looking, demure Mildred Coles was just a student when the big, fat doors of Hollywood were opened to her, and the whole world seemed to be at her feet. Yep, that is what it looks like when you are 19, have just signed a contract and were expected to make tons of movies opposite well known stars of the day. Sadly, even this success story (and it is a success story, not many girl get to this step!) did not warrant a continuation, and by the mid 1940s, she was down to low budget movies and westerns, and in the end, retirement before the age of 30.

EARLY LIFE:

Mildred Blanche Coles was born on July 18, 1920, in Los Angeles, California, to Thomas R. Coles and Josephine Elizabeth Warrick. Her Ohio born father was a vice president of a company and her Illinois born mother a housewife. She was their only child.

Mildred grew up in Van Nuys and attended Van Nuys High School. She was nicknamed Milly by her parents, and, despite growing up in a well off homestead, helped her mother around the house, washing dishes and cooking.

Mildred attended Occidental Colledge in Los Angeles, and there she was noticed by a Paramount talent scout, who signed her in 1938 and thus her movie career started.

CAREER:

Mildred had a few uncredited roles when she first came to Hollywood, and in pretty high flying movies at that: Andy Hardy Gets Spring Fever, the absolute classic The Women, where she played a debutante, and 5th Ave Girl, a charming movie with Ginger Rogers.

As a part of the publicity gag, Mildred changed her name, briefly, to Gloria Carter, and appeared as the character with the same name in Our Neighbors – The Carters. This could be a forgotten movie, as it had no reviews on IMDB, and there is not even a summary written for it. I could only find Music with cues for the picture released in 1939 (you have it on the Internet Archive).

MildredColes3From then on, Mildred got up on the Hollywood ladder, slowly but surely. She appeared, uncredited, in Ladies Must Live, a bubbly but ultimately moronic B romance movie for Warner Bros, alongside Wayne Morris and Rosemary Lane. The next was Money and the Woman, a crime programmer (shorter than 60 mins), with Jeffery Lynn (an actor I admire) and Brenda Marshall in the leads. The plot is a bit above average, showing how you can steal money from the bank without staging a heist of a gun robbery. Still, is levels out to a standard programmer fare in the end.

No Time for Comedy  still had her in the uncredited tier, but it was a step up. This is no B movie, but it’s not easy to appraise it. The plot concerns a comedy writer trying to “mature” and try and write a tragedy, with tragic results. As one reviewer nicely put, it’s a uneasy mix of drama and comedy, a tricky meta genre Hollywood likes to do even today. It’s notoriously hard to pull off, and while not completely off the mark, the movie isn’t as successful as it would like in the balancing act. The cast is superb – Jimmy Stewart, Rosalind Russell, Charles Ruggles, Genevive Tobin, and are the real reason to watch this movie.

Mildred’s next venture into the uncredited territory is A Dispatch from Reuter’s, a biopic showing the life of Julius Reuter, who created the first world wide information system. The man strength of the movie is Edward G. Robinson in the lead role – like in most of his movie work, he’s magnificent and almost impossible to outshine. While not completely accurate (what do you expect from Hollywood biopics?), it’s a well made movie, moving at a brisk pace and with superb editing. The rest of the cast is very solid: Gene Lockhart, Otto Kruger, Nigel Bruce, Albert Bassermann and Edna Best. Eddie Albert, an actor I adore, who plays Robinsons’s assistant, has the most thankless role int he movie.

Santa Fe Trail  is a famous Errol Flynn western. I dislike westerns and am hardy the one to judge them, so I’ll just skip this one. I like Errol and find it hard to imagine him as a cowboy, but hey, he made several highly popular westerns in the 1940s, so he must have made something right!  She made a short comedy reel, March On, Marines, with Dennis Morgan, the singing Irishman of the 1940s. It’s a typical saccharine, over idealized portrayal of marine life. She made an appearance in Cliff Edwards and His Buckaroos, and was uncredited int he superb Gary Cooper movie, Meet John Doe, perhaps the best movie she appeared in.

Mildred finally caught her moment of fame in Play Girl, a Kay Francis comedy. Make no mistake, Kay was way past her prime in 1941, and her movies were not top moneymakers, this one being no exception. The plot, as it goes is, as taken from a reviewer on IMDB: “An aging “gold-digger” Grace (Kay Francis), realizes that she’s too old (over 30) to hoodwink vain older men. She takes on a destitute nineteen-year-old Ellen (Mildred Coles), and grooms her to be her successor.” The movie gives some subtle hints of the dark side of “high class call girl” living, but it’s a light comedy at it’s very heart. Kay overshadows just about everybody else, including Mildred. Let’s be fair, as the ingenue, Mildred has a much drier, less interesting and meaty role than Kay. This is always the case where there are female dual roles in movies. Yet, it was a good start for Mildred, and she had something to look forward to.

MildredColes6Whatever you can say about the movie, Mildred was never uncredited again, a feast in itself in Hollywood, where one day you are the king, and the other day a pauper. Maybe her way was started. Her next leading role was in Here Comes Happiness.  The plot is a copy-paste of “It happened one night”, with a rich heiress trying to wiggle out of the gilded cage she lives in and enjoy her life at the normal middle class level (without her intended knowing she is a heiress, of course!). It’s a typical slow moving, gentle movie of the time Hollywood rarely makes anymore – no surprises, no big names, simple plot based on misunderstandings. MIldred is good enough, and so is her leading man, Edward Norris.

Hurry, Charlie, Hurry is a Leon Erroll vehicle all the way. Like in most of his movies, Errol tries to escape form his wife, telling her he is going there and there and doing this and that, but in fact going the totally opposite and way and doing something totally different. This time, he tells her he meeting with the Vice-President but goes on a fishing trip. He befriends some Native Americans and the fun starts when they come to visit him. Mildred plays the long suffering wife here, but, make no mistake, it’s Errol’s movie and Mildred is little more than a nice set piece.

After such a let down, Mildred got slightly bigger fish to fry. Lady Scarface is an interesting movie, if nothing than for the role of gender in its plot. Lady Scarface is, of course, a woman, played by the delicious Judith Anderson, and a hard core mob boss, who hold court with an iron fist over her group of petty criminals. Women rule in this picture, and man are mostly useless – as exemplified by the feeble tries of the male police officers to nab Lady Scarface. While it’s not a very good movie, with a thin plot and B movie values, it is Judith Anderson that makes it a worthwhile experience.

Mildred took up comedy afterwards, quite a change from her previous fare. Scattergood Meets Broadway is a mediocre, little seen comedy with Guy Kibbee in the leading role. Sleepytime Gal is a typical Judy Canova movie – if you like her brand of humor, than this is definitely a above average movie for you, if not, don’t watch it. Judy always played the same variation her her screen persona, but she sure had charisma and could hold together even the weakest of plots (this movie is not particular exception).

So This Is Washington is a typical wartime production of the early 1940s. The main plot concerns the contract of small town America and the big town America, and yet, it reached a nice conclusion of unity and how it’s not that important where you come from. It’s a nice, breezy and semi funny movie, and it takes some knowledge of the times to truly enjoy it. Chester Lauck and Norris Guff as the two leads, are a passable comedy duo, the predecessors of the two man comedy duo still prevalent today (just watch Dumb and Dumber!). Mildred plays a secretary, but it’s not big role, as she’s showed behind the spotlight held by the two main stars.

MildredColes5What was once a promising career was slowly melting by this time, and Mildred started going (GASP!) westerns. I said it lots of times, and I’m gonna say it even more – for most actresses, this is the sure way to movie work rock bottom. Same here. Already her first, Song of the Drifter  is a an completely unknown musical western. The rest of the westerns Mildred made are: Oklahoma BadlandsMarshal of AmarilloBack Trail and Desperadoes of Dodge City. I have no patience to even try to pretend I’m interested in them, so excuse me for the lack of info 🙂 .

In between the westerns, Mildred squeezed some B (maybe C) level movies that she is best remembered for today. Bob and Sally is her crowning achievement. But is it a good thing? No, I don’t think so. This story is similar to the story of Thelma White, an actress remembered today only because she acted in a exploitation movie int he 1940s (in her case, Reefer Madness). Yes, unlike many other talented actress, she is remembered, but is that remembrance good? Let’s get back to Bob and Sally. Here is a brief synopses of the movie I found on this page:

The problem of young girls who embark on sexual relations without advice from their parents, who are too embarrassed; one has a still born baby after syphilis; the other an abortion and nearly dies.

Yep, you do the math. Is it a master piece with a compelling story great performances and good production values? I don’t think so. Should Mildred, not a wholly untalented actress, and certainly a nice looking girl, be remembered for? It’s hard to say, and depends on hos highly one values “notoriety”. At least she is remembered today (even that is open to discussion, ask a normal classic movie fan if he knows who Mildred Coles is and wait for the answer!)

MildredColes7A better movie (IMHO) and a much better fit for Mildred was Blonde Ice, a low budget thriller wholly elevated to a new level due to the great performance by the leading lady, Leslie Brooks. The plot deals with a lady who murders her way up the social scale. No, she can’t truly parallel the great Jean Gillies in Decoy, a another movie by the same director, Jack Bernhard (boy, did he like his women fatal!), but she more than holds her own. The movie is not as good as Decoy at any measure, but as I said, it holds it’s own in the story and acting department. Interesting to note that Leslie Brooks married Russ Vincent, the man who plays a sleazy blackmailer in the movie.

Mildred’s last movie, Bungalow 13, is another little known crime caper. The lead is played by George Sander’s brother Tom Conway, sadly always seen in his career a “poor man’s George Sanders” (playing charming but rough detectives). The plot is typical of the genre, and features detective Christopher Adams, who chases a precious antique jade lion through the Mexican cafes, auto courts, and the seamy side of Los Angeles. Heard that one before? A hundred times for sure! For the fans of 1940s crime movies it’s a treat, for others not even worth watching.

Mildred knew that, by this time, there was little chance of her getting to first base, and gave up her career not long after.

PRIVATE LIFE:

When Mildred entered Hollywood in 1938, she was almost married, and thus, no big scandals nor romance items for her. Well, who was her intended?

ca. 1940 --- Actress Mildred Coles Wearing a Swimsuit --- Image by © John Springer Collection/CORBIS

ca. 1940 — Actress Mildred Coles Wearing a Swimsuit — Image by © John Springer Collection/CORBIS

Mildred married attorney John Rodney Frost on June 18, 1939, at not yet 19 years old. Frost was born in October 9, 1913 to Winter R Frost and Faith Orton in Utah. He graduated from Freemont High School in Los Angeles, received his A.B. degree from U.C.L.A., and graduated from U.S.C. Law School. He managed a campus milk route to pull himself through college.

In 1940, Frost became a Douglas Aircraft Co. wage and salary administrator negotiating with unions, and spent much of his time in Washington.

Mildred was mostly in the papers due to her (soaring then failing) career. I do know that she had a appendectomy in 1941. The Frosts had four children: Josephine Faith Frost, born on May 14, 1942, Susan Elizabeth Frost, born on October 21, 1944, Jacqueline May Frost, born on March 5, 1949, and Sally Anne Frost, born on September 6, 1950. After the birth of her third daughter, Mildred effectively retired from movies to take care of her family.

The Frosts divorced on January 27, 1979, in San Diego, California. Frost died on December 4, 1985 in California.

Mildred remarried to a Mr. Call sometimes in the 1980s.

Mildred Call died on August 31, 1995, in Paradise, Butte County, California.

 

Suzanne Dadolle

SuzanneDadolle5

Suzanne Dadolle’s story starts like a romance novel. A beautiful girl meets a charming movie star. They fall in love, spend many weeks together and enjoy a stunning courtship. Yet, unlike most romance novels, it ends on a bitter note. Well, that happens when you romance Clark Gable in the 1950s!

EARLY LIFE:

Suzanne Dadolle D’Abadie was born in 1926 in Turkey. She grew up in Algiers (then a French colony) where she spend the early years of WW2. In 1944 she returned to Paris, was enrolled as a Wave in the French Navy and was soon promoted to a member of the personal entourage of general Charles De Gaulle, the future president of France.

After the war was over, Suzanne chose to work in the hostess industry. For a season, she worked as a hostess at the Deauville Casino and then returned to Paris and started modeling full time. In 1951, she wen to the United States to demonstrate French luxurious products and dresses under the patronage of Frank Burd, a hosiery firm executive. The article, dating from 1951, described her as a “ice cool blonde”, very diplomatic in her approach to people. Of New York, she said: “I love it here. I feel, for some reason, safe. This is a beautiful city, and any time of day you can see the blue sky, and your nylon lingerie, it is superb”.

CAREER:

Suzanne appeared in only one movie, and she was a mature woman by that time, not a youthful starlet. The movie is a fashion plate movie (you expected something else?) . The name: A New Kind of LoveExcept Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward, a stunning Hollywood couple if there ever was one, we have Thelma Ritter, Eva Gabor and George Tobias. Add to this impressive roaster of actors a solid script, great jazz music and some snazzy wardrobe, and you get a above average viewing experience. No, it’s not a masterpiece like Citizen Kane or Gone with the wind, but it certainly holds its own.

Suzanne never made another movie again (what a shame!)

PRIVATE LIFE

Now comes the meaty part of Suzanne’s life. Her affair with Clark Gable. I have to admit, the more I read about Clark and his affairs, my opinion of the man plummeted. I still think he was a good man and devoted fiend, and he sure did not treat his women nicely.

SuzanneDadolle6Lets start from the beginning. We all know the basics: Clark Gable was a real life Rhett Butler (whom he played so masterfully in Gone with the wind). Women adored him. He was married twice to older women, but constantly strayed. He liked his ladies to be blonde, athletic but feminine and sophisticated. He enjoyed steamy affairs with Joan Crawford and Loretta Young (who bore him a daughter, out of wedlock). Yet, the firts wife who truly stood toe to toe with Clark was his third, comedienne Carole Lombard. Sadly, she died in January 1942 in an airplace accident. He never truly got over this tragedy. He went into active military duty, serving in the air force. After he returned to Hollywood in 1945, he dated up a storm with a large number of women. Terribly lonely and with a drinking problem, he impulsively married in Lady Sylvia Ahsley in 1949. Despite a short period of happiness, the marriage was a fiasco. In May 1952, Clark sailed on the to Europe, not planning to return until December 1953.

Suzanne met Clark on a cocktail party in September 1951 (as she later claimed). Now this is some sketchy information, as he was not in Europe at that time, and the only chance of this really happeneing was that she was in the States back then. Suzanne was for sure in the States in January 1951, but in September? Have no idea. But, for appearances sake, let’s believe it. They re-met when he came to Paris in May 1952. He had a month off before starting a new picture. She was an Elsa Schiaparelli model at the time. He fell in love with her at first sight and asked her out right away. The early stages of courtship started. So, how did Clark woo Suzanne?

He plunked down $3,000 for a Schiaparelli – designed evening gown which Suzanne was modeling for the famous Parisian designer in her celebrated salon in Paris. Glamorous Susie got the gown, Clark got the kick out of surprising her with it. How can a girl resist such advances? It was easy to see why Clark fell for Suzanne. Tall, willowy and chic, she was a true haute cuture mannequin. As I already wrote, Clark had a strong preference in women: blonde, high born, sophisticated, but with a wild side. Suzanne fit this model, physically, to a Tee – however, like his former wife, Sylvia Ashely, she was a lover of jewelry and a fashion plate in real life. That was not such a good combo (Clark was notoriously tight fisted when others were concerned).

What followed were magical months where Suzanne and Clark lived the Parissiene life to the fullest.  I quote this great site about Clark Gable, Dear Mr. Gable: “They cruised around Paris, dined alfresco at cafes, drank wine, walked arm in arm down the street like tourists”. Suzanne introduced him tot he lively nightlife of the capital, but also tried to work on cultural upbringing -she took him to the opera, museums and recitals. The also boated around the Seine frequently, like any other couple in love. In mid June, he had to move to London to start filming a movie with Gene Tierney.

SuzanneDadolle8Clark got himself a sports car, one of a kind Jaguar, while in England, and had fun driving it around. He got on splendidly with Gene Tierney, his co-star, but did not forget Suzanne- he went down to Paris almost every free weekend he had to meet with her again. They spend Bastille Day together, dancing on the streets, drinking wine, shouting with the crowds in the cafes, and going for onion soup the morning after. Clark returned to France on September 20, bringing his Jaguar with him. He and Suzanne started a slow descent to Rome by car, crossing Switzerland. They stayed for three weeks at the exclusive Villa d’Este on the lake Como, where he played golf and she took it easy, sunbathing and swimming. They finally got to Rome and spend a few days there as carefree tourists. Sadly, Sam Zimbalist called Clark in the middle of their idyllic sojourn, and he had to fly to Nairobi on October 31 to start filming Mogambo. Suzanne was left to return to Paris alone.

The pair made headlines for the first time in the US in November 1952, after they separated for the time being. They were spotted together in a restaurant in Rome. Since Clark was away in Africa filming, no further news were given of them for a long time. While I have no idea what Suzanne was doing during that time, Clark was romancing Grace Kelly on set. Grace fell hard for Clark, but he did not return the sentiment – he was there to see her off on May 19, 1953, when she boarded the plane from London to New York. Clark returned to Paris right away, and continued to tour European sights with his old friends, the Menascos, and Suzanne. They visited Switzerland, France and Italy (especially Florence), and often stopped at small towns to soak up the atmosphere.

Later in May, they were photographed in the Hostarirr Dell Orso,  prestigious night club in Paris. By July, Clark installed hismelf in the Hotel Rapahel in Paris, he and Suzanne going as strong as ever.

Soon, the upper classes of Paris were sure that Gable was going to marry Suzanne – but Dorothy Killgallen, ever the acerbic wit, branded them hopeless romantics and said she very much doubted Clark would do it. It sounded very harsh and much too unkind at the time, when everything was still possible, but sadly, Dorothy knew Clark too well. Indeed, he would never marry Suzanne, and the story ended on a bitter note.

SuzanneDadolle3Clark was not the only one trying to get into Miss Dadolle’s good graces – Aly Khan, the notorious playboy dating Gene Tierney (who was o staring with Clark in the movie Never Let Me Go), was also interested in her. Allegedly Suzanne resisted as long as she could, but gave in after some persuasion, and went on a few dates with the dashing Prince. There was s rumors that Gene Tierney walked out on Aly Khan in Paris when he walked into a cocktail reception at the American Embassy with Suzanne on his arm.

After Clark returned to Paris full time, he introduced Suzanne to Hedda Hopper – both looked stunning as they returned from a Capri holiday. Suzanne affinity for wearing pants during the day and toreador pans for the evening was also noted in the press, calling her a modern day Marlene Dietrich. Louella Parsons called Suzanne one of the prettiest women she had ever seen. In August, they departed for the Medoc house of Alexis Lichine, to escape from the heat and the snoops. It all seemed fine and dandy between the couple.

When they returned to Paris later in the month, Clark started to call her “my future wife.” I can very much see why Suzanne really tough that she had snagged her man. Who calls a woman this and then breaks off with her on the first sight of trouble? In September, there were early reports that Suzanne had accepted Clark’s proposal of marriage, and that it would all be made official in two weeks. In early October, Suzanne gave off the first interviews where she coyly talks about marriage, not denying nor confirming it. She claimed Clark had to wait a bit before getting his final divorce decree, which was not valid information since he was already divorced by that time from Sylvia Ashley.

SuzanneDadolle4As modern screen wrote about Suzanne (the information is double faced, so I’ll leave it to you to make up your mind about it):

An entirely different kind of girl is Suzanne Dadolle. She seems to be the one most in love and most
interested in marriage. She has devoted her time to Clark Gable for over a year, and although he was reserved about her at first, they were later seen together constantly. Toward the end of last summer, you could find them practically any evening, dining out at any of the cafes in Paris along the Champs Elysees.
There are friends who say that Clark intends to make his Suzanne the fifth Mrs.
Gable, that as recently as September he was introducing her to friends in Paris as “my future wife.” Others insist it’s just a fling. “I’ll give you even money,” a friend of his says, “that when Gable shows up in South America for his next picture — that is, if he does show up— he will be still single. I know the guy and I’m telling you that he was burned in his last marriage and he doesn’t want to try it again.”
However, Clark himself said he had absolutely nothing against marriage and that if the right girl came along — “someone sophisticated, attractive, and of course, someone with whom I was in love, I wouldn’t mind getting married one bit.”

Clark was in Amsterdam, Holland, making his last movie for MGM. But, if Suzanne expected Clark to dash from Amsterdam to Paris and make a joint statement, she was to be bitterly disappointed. Clark literary backstabbed her by claiming Suzanne was just after a bit of publicity, saying he was not in love with anybody and that he would certainly not get married any time soon. I have no idea if the two ever met again during the rest of his Europe trip, but Clark soon went back to the US (back to his farm), and Suzanne was left behind in Paris. Yet, rumors stubbornly persisted as to the fact that he would take Suzanne with him and make her his bride early in 1955. No such luck.

Now, time for a short analysis. What exactly happened? Well, Clark did. Trust me, after seeing Gone with the wind for the first time back in the early 2000s, I adored him. Who didn’t find Rhett Butler exciting? But, the more I grew up and matured, and of course the more I read about Clark, I changed my mind drastically. Yet, he was charming and alluring, but Clark was one difficult personality. I personally could never warm up to his kind of a man: traditional, hard as stone, set in his ways, expecting a woman to bend to him. It was no secret that Carole Lombard did everything to make him happy, expected little in return, and tolerated his extra marital adventures. The more I read about them, the more I asked myself: what did Carole see in him? She was a such a vivacious, charming, unusual woman, she could have had any man she wanted. Behind the Rhett Butler facade, Clark Gable was far from a perfect man. His career came first and even his romances took the back seat to it. Well, to each his own – there is no doubt there were were partners who could be perfectly suited for Clark, but the problem is that he was attracted to strong, high born, independent women who were not the ideal candidates for a man like him. Joan Crawford, a lioness in her private life and career, and a great love of Clark’s, saw this early in the relationship and refused to marry him because of it. All for the best, IMHO – they would have ended up divorced before the years was out. So, let’s be a bit brutal – Clark led Suzanne on, living a highly romanticized, idyllic life for almost a year, and when she wanted something more, he brutally dropped her. While there is a possibility that he told her, point blank, he would never marry her, but she refused to believe him and thought to the last she could change him (ah, common mistake!), I somehow doubt it. The point is, Suzanne was given the sack after a great romance.

SuzanneDadolle1Suzanne lived in a half fantasy world for a time after, hoping that Clark WOULD marry her, even dreaming of Verona, Italy, as the perfect place for that. Yet, when Johnny Meyer, world class cad and Howard Hughes’s right hand man, came to Paris, they had a brief but passionate fling. By Late December, there was no hope for a reconciliation. In January, the papers were abuzz with the news that Suzanne was coming to the US to join Clark. False! With every new interview Clark just cemented what Suzanne must have known by then – he would not marry her. Yet, in June 1954, Suzanne, perhaps hoping against every reason, sailed for the US. She was to stay with Johnny Meyer, her old flame.

Suzanne landed in New York, and did good as a model. Clark allegedly long distanced her and even asked her to visit him in California, but she refused, quite liking it in New York. Then, in December 1954, she finally did go to Los Angeles, to try her hand at TV and continue modeling. She had a uneasy encounter with Kay Spreckles, the former model who would become Clark’s Wife Nr. 5, at the Beverly Hills hotel. Clark was in Hong Kong at the time, filming Soldier of Fortune with Susan Hayward.

Eve after Clark returned, nothing big happened. Taken from this great site (with a good page about Suzanne!!!)

To date, The King and Suzanne have encountered each other only twice. Once on the set at 20th Century Fox where Gable was doing a luncheon scene in a Hong King restaurant with Susan Hayward (late that day he drove Hayward home) and once in La Rue’s restaurant. Gable was dining there with Kay Spreckels when Suzanne came in with contractor Hal Hayes.
Since Hayes used to date Kay, and Gable used to date Dadolle, there might have been some embarrassment. But Kay handled the situation tactfully. She walked over to Hayes’ table and was introduced to Suzanne. Gable nodded pleasantly, and the encounter came off without incident.

Luckily, Suzanne was far from idle while in Los Angeles. She modeled for Orry Kelly and was active romantically. Her newest swain was producer Brynie Foy, and they became serious quickly – the papers reported their matrimonial intentions as early as January 1955. Sadly, the relationship was soon broken, and she went on to date socialite Dick Cowell. In April, she was taken to Nassau by a new ardent admirer, Lord Astor. However, she was soon back with the ever loving Cowell.

In May, she was seen with Irving “Swifty” Lazar. By August 1955, Suzanne was the highest paid model in the US. However, at some point, Suzanne returned to Paris and worked in the fashion magazine industry. She wrote articles for Harper’s Bazaar, among them a guide to traveling in Provance.
Sadly, I have no idea what happened to Suzanne afterwards, or if she is alive today.

Janice Logan

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Janice Logan was an actress much preferred by her studio, Paramount, and excepted to achieve a top career. Despite the initial burning desire to become a great actress, she changed her priorities and decided to get married, leaving Hollywood behind. It is clear not many actresses were given a chance that she was given, and ever fewer of them chose to forgo it – but the question remains, could Janice have been a true acting tour-de-force? Could she had become the next Bette Davis or Joan Crawford? Since she gave up to soon, before acting in a substantial movie, we can never tell. What we have today shows us a pretty and charming woman, but no great actress. Maybe, if she could have developed her skills… Yet, as I said, we will never know. PS: Much of the information has been taken from Laura Wagner’s superb article about Janice (you can read the article here). Thank you Laura for introducing this fine actress to me 🙂

EARLY LIFE:

Shirley Logan was born on May 29, 1917, to Stuart Logan and Gladys Goodrich in Chicago, Illinois. Stuart Logan, born in 1887, was the son of Frank and Josephine Hancock Logan, both members of prominent Chicagoan families. He was working in the investment firm Logan and Bryan at the time. Her mother was from an equally prestigious family, her father being Horace Goodrich.

They married on November 1, 1910, and three daughters followed: Phoebe (born on December 24, 1911), Shirley (born May 29, 1917), and Laurette (born on October 17, 1918). A double tragedy struck the family in 1922 – first, Gladys gave birth to a stillborn son on February 5, and then died on July 15.

Stuart married to Lulu Logan sometime after 1925. As a member of the upper class, Shirley was nothing if not well educated – first at Rosemary Hall in Greenwich, Connecticut, and then  Fermata Preparatory School in Aiken, South Carolina. Like many ladies of her generation, she ended her educating at a woman’s liberal arts college, Sarah Lawrence College in Bronxville, New York. She was popular on the campus, and was even voted the best dressed woman.

Already bitten by the acting bug from an early age, after graduation Shirley started acting for a Connecticut stock company, when a talent scount noticed her and suggested she try movies. Shirley landed in Hollywood in early 1939, and her journey began.

CAREER:

Janice appeared in only six movies, and only four were made in Hollywood. Now, this truly is a wasted talent, since Janice was not just an uncredited face, but a leading lady who showed much promise.

JaniceLogan5Janice was at the right time at the right place, and was a member of the Paramount Golden Circle almost from the moment she signed with the studio (the other in the circle were, Louise Campbell, Joseph Allen, Judith Barrett, Patricia Morison, Susan Hayward, Robert Preston, Ellen Drew, William Henry, William Holden, Betty Field, Jayce Mattews, Evelyn Keyes and so on…). When we take the sum of all parts, most of the golden circle never broke into stardom, let alone became lasting Hollywood legends (only William Holden and Susan Hayward did this. Patricia Morrison, Robert Preston and Evelyn Keyes became well known thespians, but never legends, Ellen Drew and Betty Field did some notable B work, and the others did not even scratch the surface).

Janice made her debut in Undercover Doctor, an Edgar J. Hoover penned extravaganza. No, not really an extravaganza, but it’s an interesting experiential that ultimately fails to do its job. It’s neither suspenseful nor dramatic, and falls flat in terms of script writing and acting. Worth watching only if one is interested in Hoover and his work.

Janice appeared with Betty Field, a fellow Paramount Golden Circle, in What a Life . Everybody known this type of a movie – they are small, colorful, low key, feel good movies with no big plot or incredible acting achievements, but solidly done and with a positive message. So, if you are all for that kind of films, by all means go ahead. Janice is overshadowed by Field, who had a better (and much longer), so the comparisons are hardy fair.

JaniceLogan2Now, if Janice will ever be remembered, it’s because of Dr. Cyclops. A weird movie if there ever was one. We have the lead, a crazy scientist, Dr. Cyclops, who summons three scientists (Thomas Coley, Janice Logan, Charles Halton) to his remote South American laboratory to seek their advice on his secret project. Janice has the good luck of playing the only female role, making her feminine center of attention, but it’s Albert Dekker’s movie all the way. Dekker was unusually the second banana in movies, not being conventionally handsome, but he was a fine actor who could give a very nuanced performance when he was given the chance. His Dr. Cyclops is a powerfully tragic figure, someone you equally pity and hate. To make things even worse for Janice, it you put Dekker aside, the special effects draw much more attention than any of the supporting cast. They are very good for the time, and deservedly got an Oscar nomination.

Opened by Mistake is one hot mess. The movie itself is so obscure it doesn’t even have a summary in IMDB, but I dug up some newspaper reviews from May 1940 and looked it up on Wikipedia, and boy, what a plot! A guile hero who just wants to go on vacation, a crate “opened by mistake” hiding a body, Janice playing a woman who is trying to find a million dollars hidden in a similar crate, a banker who stole those million dollars, the cops hot on their trail, mistaken identities, one nasty publisher, so on and so on. The convoluted plot does nobody any favors, and the mix and match obviously did not work this time. No, it’s not the worst you could find, but not the best either.

Janice left Hollywood for private reasons after this movie. It’s a shame, as she was truly on the way up, and could have been another Susan Hayward. Or maybe not, but we’ll never know now.

Janice made tow more movies, but they are Mexican production and are largely forgotten today (Summer Hotel and El as negro ). That’s all.

PRIVATE LIFE:

Janice was 5 feet 5 inches tall, weighted 118 lbs, and was called “a perfect model” in 1939 by a bunch of photographers. Janice had luxurious, naturally curly hair but like many curly haired woman, wished it was straight (calling it bothersome).

Janice was hailed as a Chicago debutante who decided to make her fortunes in Hollywood. She undetook a European vacation before she came to Tinsel Town, yet, the papers managed to neglect her rather colorful history that included a youthful marriage abd more.

JaniceLogan3In June 1936, Shirley was married to Jackson Reade, a New York stock broker. Reade was born on May 24, 1900, in Pennsylvania, making him quite a bit older than Janice. He lived in New York City from 1919.

Laura Wagner writes in the article about what happened next:

“Seven months later, Shirley’s father and sister Phoebe persuaded the teenager to leave her new husband and live with Phoebe in Los Angeles. Two months later, Reade filed a $150,000 “lost-love suit” against the Logan family. He claimed they loved each other and wrote letters constantly, but they were being kept apart; he was convinced that his pregnant wife was “being kept a virtual prisoner because she wishes to see me.” His case was thrown out of court and the marriage was annulled. On March 10, 1937, Shirley gave birth to a daughter, Phoebe, who was to be raised by Shirley’s sister Loraine.”

As I said, all of this was hushed when Shirley became Janice and took a new identity. In an early interview, Janice told the press: “I thought when I finally got a motion picture contract, that I was through with schools. I had been in six or seven of them and I thought that was enough. But I didn’t know Hollywood. Today, I’m an actress, but I still go to school. In Hollywood, my education started all over again. I had to go to Paramount’s dramatic school. I took lessons in hair dress and make up. I even learned how to walk, stand and sit gracefully for the benefit of the camera. In the wardrobe department, I learned what clothes to wear – and how to wear them. It seems the studio insists all its younger players to take dramatic coaching when they are not in a picture. I’ve found there is plenty to learn.”

While filming Dr. Cyclops, Janice suffered a wardrobe malfunction – while running around clad only in a sheet, the sheet caught on a nail and she was left naked for a brief while. To stop this from occurring in the future, Janice wore sarongs from then on.

In January 1940, Janice was seriously ill from influenza, but managed to recover in time to continue her film work. In February 1941, she was called the best undressed woman in the States by a group of college students who wanted to parody the “best dressed” title. Her runner up was Marlene Dietrich (some runner up!).

JaniceLogan4Janice, however, was not happy with the title, fearing what her parents would say if they heard of it. She needn’t have feared – her father was in good humor about it, even teasing her to the press. Not long after, Janice threw a party for nine men that helped her in her quest for cinematic immortality. It was a good publicity play, but Janice seemed like a genuinely nice woman: cameraman Henry Hallenberger, who shot her first Paramount test, said, “I’ve been at Paramount studio for 23 years, and this is the first time an actress has invited me to have my picture taken with her.”

Yet, just as her star was rising, other plans took precedence. Janice met and fell in love with french journalist, Jacques Schoeller. Schoeller came to New York from Europe on the Ille de France and they met while he was in the US. He returned to France at some point in the early 1940, and soon Janice lost all trace of him.

This was sad but understandable – Jacques was in a country soon to be engulfed into chaos of WW2. Janice was so distraught over the fate of her fiancee that she suffered a series of medical maladies – when the situation did not improve, she was made by the doctors to take a three month leave from work. She did not plan to return to the movie lot (opting to get married instead), and, in a very generous gesture by the studio, was given a special contract that stated she could return whenever she was ready to resume. This showed just how good Janice was, and how much the top brass wanted her to continue her career. Sadly, it was not meant to be.

JaniceLogan6In May 1940 she went to Europe to find Jacques. What exactly transpired in Europe is unknown (why was Jacques missing? How did she find him? Where?), but the two reunited and married on November 25, 1940, in Bougival, a Paris suburb.

Jacques Charles Marie Schoeller was born on August 11, 1909, making him 6 years older than Janice, in Paris, to Rene Schoeller and Suzane Feraud. He traveled a great deal, often to Mexico. They returned the States in February 1941 on board the Monterey, and went on to live in Chicago.

She adopted her husband’s lifestyle and traveled a widely. She visited Mexico several times in the 1940s. She and Schoeller divorced at some point.

Laura Wagner wrote that Janice married Thomas Bell – I could not find any mentions of the union, I just know that it was sometime after 1955. The couple allegedly moved to Glendale, California.

While I could not find a death certificate, Shirley Bell died on October 23, 1965, in Glendale, California, in a house fire.

CORRECTION: Thanks to Becky’s kindness, I found out that Shirley actually died in 1967, under the name of Shirley Logan Schoeller, so it is posible she never married  Mr. Bell and she was definetly not the Shirley Bell who died in a house fire.

Her former husband Jackson Reade died in October 1981.

 

 

 

Eleanor Bayley

EleanorBayley

Perpetually cast in the lightweight musicals of the late 1930s and early 1940s, Eleanor Bayley was the eternal dancer, always seen in the background and never truly noticed by the viewer. After a steady although unspectacular career, she retired to raise a family.

EARLY LIFE:

Eleanor Bayley was born on January 4, 1916, in Atchison, Kansas, to Hammond Bayley and Grace R. Bayley. Her sister was Gwendolyn Bayley, and her younger brother Hale was born in 1924. Her family was a staple of the city, being there for many generations.

Growing up and attending high school in Atchison, she dreamed of becoming a dancer and actress. She even made a notebook detailing those dreams for an English project. Sadly, her father died on July 1, 1927, when she was just 11 years old. The family moved to the West coast afterwards.

Eleanor finished her high school days in Hollywood, danced in all the schools’ production and took dancing classes from Moscow brothers, who were also dance teachers to Ted Shaw and Ruth St. Denis. She got her first taste of the real dancers life when she got a job as a member of a dancing troupe that gave 5 shows a day at the Paramount theater (between movies). Soon she moved to Grauman’s Chinese theater, and became a part of a vaudeville troupe (Gold Diggers) that traveled all around the US and Canada. She returned to Hollywood full time in 1933, and got a contract with Warner Bros, becoming one of the Busby Berkeley girls.

CAREER:

Eleanor made several very good movies at the very start of her career. The golden string started with Footlight Parade, a snappy, sharp musical with James Cagney, Joan Blondell, Ruby Keeler and Dick PowellFashions of 1934 is one of those sophisticated comedies they don’t make anymore today. A special plus is seeing Bette Davis in posh frocks with long blonde hair (have to see it to believe it!). Dames  gives us the best of Warner Bros 1930s musicals – plenty of witty comedy, great ensemble cast and f course, lavish dancing numbers choreographed by Busby Berkeley. It rarely gets better than this as far as the genre goes. And then, in her next movie, it did get better – Gold Diggers of 1935 are, as one reviewer summed it nicely, Good music, lots of beautiful girls and an inane plot, humorously acted out by a talented cast.

EleanorBayley2Sadly, the golden string was finished here, and some mediocre movies followed. Shipmates Forever is a Navy musical, a special sub genre of its own, but it’s not a typical example of the genre, giving us a more nuances, realistic portrayal of military life, but herein lies it’s problem – is it a carefree musical of a serious study about Navy men? The movie tries both and it fails. While not a complete waste, it’s below the usual Powell-Keeler musical of the time.

Both Colleen and Gold Diggers of 1937 show us just how the golden years of Warner Bros musicals was waning. Again, while not complete wastes of time, it’s a movie you see once and forget after two days. Over the Wall  is a pretty weird musical – a man lands into jail, lives his days full of rage and anger, only to discover he has a fine singing voice and becomes a singer. Yeah folks, they made a movie out of this silly story. Dick Foran, the singing cowboy, plays the bitter, twister fellow with a voice of an angel. Ha ha!

Girl from Avenue A is a forgotten Jane Withers movie. Joan of Ozark is an idiotic romp where Judy Canova playing her usual character, works as an anti Nazi agent. When she did it all, including hunting down Nazi criminals. What to say? if you like Bob Burns/Judy Canova comedies, maybe worth a look, otherwise avoid.

0024Footlight Serenade was a better movie, one of the first breakthrough roles for Betty Grable. It’s a nice piece of lightweight entertainment, with an interesting cast – the vivacious Betty, sharp Jane Wyman, charming, handsome John Payne and gruff, crass Victor Mature (who always played the same character over and over again – but at least he knew he was a limited talent and never denied this). Springtime in the Rockies is one of those movies that has neither the script nor the top direction, but the music and the actors make it an enchanting experience.

Du Barry Was a Lady, while not a master piece by along shot, is one of the most lush, beautiful looking musicals ever made. The gentle pastel colors create such a dreamlike, blurry feeling  so the viewer is transported into a heavenly place while watching it. I Dood It is a simple, pleasing Red Skelton/Eleanor Powell movie with some great supporting cast (Gloria DeHaven, Lena Horne!!).   Broadway Rhythm, on the other hand, is a below average musical. The reasons are plentiful: average music and leads with zero chemistry and charm. George Murphy was a great second banana, but never good enough for a leading man – the same goes for Ginny Simms.

Ziegfeld Follies needs no introduction today. The Harvey Girls is everything a light entertainment movie should be – good music, good actors, a solid script.

Eleanor gave up movies afterwards to raise a family.

PRIVATE LIFE:

Eleanor’s favorite actor was James Cagney, she considered Judy Garland a great person and highly strung, said that Marjorie Main was a germ fanatic, and noted many years later that she enjoyed jitterbugging with George Murphy. Among her most treasured memories from Tinsel town was the time she was invited to San Simenon, Heart’s huge castle above Los Angeles. Eleanor was appearing in a movie Heart was producing for his mistress, Marion Davies. Eleanor noted how Hearst spared no expenses when Marion was concerned, building lavish sets and buying whole department stores for her dressing room. Marion herself was extremely generous, giving the girls who visited her dressing room anything they liked from the racks.

EleanorBayley3A beautiful blonde with porcelain skin, Eleanor was a popular girl in Hollywood. She started dating Eddie Foy Jr. in 1933, when she was barely 17 years old. The two wed in April 1935. Eddie Foy, born on February 4, 1905 in New Rochelle, New York, was the son of Eddie Foy Sr.  and one of the “Seven Little Foys”.  Throughout the 1930s and ’40s he appeared in dozens of B movies. He closely resembled his father, and portrayed him in four feature films.

The marriage did not last and couple divorced in October 1937. Eleanor continued to date, hoping to find the special man who would become her husband number two.

She married Philip Duboski, then a professional football player, on January 1940 in Yuma, Arizona. Their romance started when he was playing guard and halfback at the USC football team.  Duboski went on to serve in the US Air Force during WW2.

Duboski was born on November 19, 1916, in Beloit, Wisconsin, to Mr. and Mrs. John Dubosky. Highly athletic, he played both football and basketball before graduating from high school in California and enrolling into USC. He planned to go into the oil industry after the war, but fate had other plans in store for him.

Eleanor’s second marriage proved to be a happy one. The couple had four children. Dolynn Duboski was born on July 22, 1946 in Los Angeles County, Phyllis Anastasia Duboski was born on March 8, 1948, John Bayley Duboski (their only son), was born on May 17, 1949 in Los Angeles County, and Deborah C. Duboski was born on October 10, 1957 in Los Angeles County.

Her husband worked in the Los Angeles Police Department for a few years, and in 1963  he moved his family to Strathmore, where he had bough some land in 1957. Phillip became a full time farmer, in addition to going back to school and getting his teaching credentials – he ended up teaching in the Porterville Citrus High School.

Eleanor was active in the civic community, serving on boards of several schools and teaching children how to dance. She also kept in touch with other Busby Berkeley girls, and they often had meetings in California to reminiscence about the old days. The Duboskis moved to Porterville in 1974.

Eleanor Dubovski died on June 29, 1976. Her former husband, Eddie Foy Jr. died on July 15, 1983.

Her widower Phil Duboski remarried to Patsy Lou Gill in 1980. He died on April 16, 2003, in Tulare, California.

PS: Happy New Year!!!!

happynewyearannMiller

Melba Marshall

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Good looking chorine with an unremarkable career that ended her Hollywood sojourn a happily married woman with two beautiful daughters, making her a decent example of a typical late 1930s Hollywood starlet.

EARLY LIFE:

Melba Mae Kruger was born on August 9, 1914, in Rochester, New York, to John Marshall Kruger and Nina Gamble.

In 1920, the small family was living with her maternal grandmother, Ella Gamble, with her first cousin, and a boarder. Sadly, her parents divorced in the mid 1920s and her mother went on to marry Charles H. Fick. Nina and Mae moved to Chicago, Illinois, to live with Charles.

Melba was not a big lover of the academical life, and gave up high school after the second grade. She ran away from Chicago, moved to New York, and danced in Earl Carroll shows and Manhattan nightclubs.

Melba got her first movie job using a sly trick. Getting, via friends, to Busby Berkley, she told him she’s a friend of Dick Powell. Delighted, Busby casts her in his newest movie. The ruse was soon found out, but she was forgiven and remained in the cast. Thus her Hollywood career started.

CAREER:

While IMDB has a page for Melba, the page is empty. Yeah, you heard that right, it’s empty. So I have no factual information about the movies Melba appeared in. Yet, she was for sure in the above mentioned Busby Berekely movie, The Big Broadcast of 1937, but was not credited in the movie’s imdb page.

While it is possible that she was only used for publicity purposes and was never officially in the movie, and that indeed she never made a movie appearance, I hope for her sake it’s not true and her appearances remain buried by the veil of time.

PRIVATE LIFE:

Melba started dating George Scott Barnes, noted cinematographer, in mid 1938. Barnes was already married twice before, to Joan Blondell and Elizabeth Wood. If his later obituaries were to be takes into account, he was married not two but at least four times (allegedly one of his former wives was named Ethel). The relationship went from strength to strength, and the two married sometime in 1939. Later that year, Barnes was sues by his former wife, Betty Wood, for the support of their son, Carlton. That should have been a red flag for Melba, but she stood by her man.

MelbaMarshall2Garnes was born in 1894, making him 20 years older than Melba. Barnes was well known as the silver tongued Romeo among the Hollywood crowd – while not at the least handsome, he was soft spoken and very gentlemanly. He mingled with the high class, and knew everybody there was to know. His specialty was the soft focus camera technique, a technique made especially to flatter a woman’s face. No wonder so many women fell for him. There wasa dark side to his genious,  however. Like many “smooth” men, he was an egoist and a hard task master, rarely submitting to anything less than what he decided was his preference. He made his former wife, Joan Blondell, have two abortions, and their marriage was a truly miserable one.

Their first daughter, Barbara Ann Barnes, was born on April 16, 1940. Their second daughter, Georgene S. Barnes was born on May 7, 1942. The marriage did not last, however, and the divorced in about 1945.

Melba married noted composer Arthur Quenzer in December 18, 1947. Quenzel was born on  October 20, 1905 NYC, NY, to Hary Quenzler and Rose Coughlin. Prior to 1930, Quenzer married his first wife, Helen Wehrle. He divorced her in about 1936.

On February 14, 1938, Quenzer married Marcoreta Hellman and lived with her father in Los Angeles. His first son, Peter Dennis Quenzer, was born on March 26, 1940. His second son, Michael Arthur Quenzer, was born on December 4, 1943. Quezner adopted her daughters upon the marriage.

Quenzer got his five minutes of fame by composing music for movies like Swiss MissThe Cowboy and the Lady  and DumboThe family lived for a long time in North Hollywood, where her husband headed the California Academy of Music. Georgene, known as Gene to her peers, followed in her mother’s footsteps by becoming a well known model in the area, winning her first title by the time she was 16 years old. She attended Reseda High School.

Her former husband George Barnes died in 1953.

Melba Mae Quenzer died on December 10, 1979, in Los Angeles, California. 

Her widower, Arthur, died on January 29, 1986 in Nevada. Together they are interred in the Hollywood Forever Cemetary.