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 🙂
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.
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.
Janice 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.
Now, 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 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.
In 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!).
Janice, 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.
In 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.