Madelon Mason

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When I saw Madelon Mason on the cover of Yank the Army Weekly, I was intrigued. She had such a cute, gentle, girl-next-door vibe, unlike many other more “vampish” cover girls, and I had to investigate. Much like Rita Daigle, Madelon Mason never made any splashes in Hollywood, but she was a very succesful model in the 1940s, earning good bucks for her job.

EARLY LIFE

Madelon Samandl was born on  July 4, 1921 in Cleveland, Ohio, to Jerry Samandl and Virginia Conway. Her parents married on November 30, 1920, when Virginia was already pregnant with Madelon. Virginia, born in 1901 and just 19 years old, worked as a model before marriage. Jerry was the son of Czech immigrants, Johanna and Vaclac. They lived in their house when Madelon was born, and for the first few months of her life. Jerry had served in World War 1, and suffered from PTSP after his return. Jerry and Virginia separated when Madelon was a baby, but never divorced. Jerry went to live in Chicago.

Virginia and madelon moved to Virginia’s native Lowell, Massachusets after the separation. She grew up in Lowell, and graduated from Lowell High School there.

She continued her education in Boston (have no idea what college), where she entered the world of modeling. She changed her name to the more english sounding Mason. Before long she ended up in New York, and became a top flight Harry Conover model. She shaved 6 years from her CV and presented herself as a fresh-faced 17-year-old, when in fact she was 23 years when she started modeling. However, this was no great hamper to her – due to her porcelain beauty and natural ash blonde hair, Madelon was soon in the game. She was a top model by 1945, and this propelled her to a brief visit to Hollywood. Her mother always followed her. I’m not sure if she divorced her father – but I do know that, in the meantime, he moved to Chicago, Illinois, where many of his cousins lived.

CAREER

MadelonMason2Madelon is pretty slim in this regard – she only had one appearance that we know of, and a short feature at that! Dear Miss Gloria is a short comedy skit with Gloria Swanson, truly one of the most stunning divas ever to grace the silver screen (while some people just can’t take the pressure of fame and end up deeply unhappy, even dead – Gail Russell is a good example – some people thrive on it and became the most willing participants in the publicity game. Such personalities are much better suited for Hollywood than the gentle, sensitive ones – and Gloria was the woman whom Hollywood suited like a glove. When she was on top, she enjoyed it to the hilt, when the good times passed she reinvented herself. What a dame!). Sadly, the short is completely forgotten today and I have nothing to say about it. Better luck next time!

Her newspaper bio from the early 1950s state that she appeared in numerous TV shows, but I couldn’t find any credits, so there’s kaput again.

PRIVATE LIFE

MadelonMason1In her prime, Madelon was 5’6” tall and weighted 115 pounds. Madelon gave some useful advice to her readers:

“Make your bath a daily beauty treatment” suggests lovely model Madelon Mason. “Time spent in the tub can be made to serve a double purpose – cleansing and toning up – if you follow the bathroom routine of this model. After a day packed with appointments Madelon comes home, removed her make up, smears a coat of nourishing night cream and slips into a tub of ward water with a handful of lavender scented meal dissolved in it.

While she leans back in the tub and relaxes, the meal gently loosens minute articles of rough skin, leaving it soft and smooth when the briskly towels herself dry. Meanwhile, the cream is eradicating any drying effect the weather may have had on the skin.

With the stiff nail brush, Madelon scrubs her feet thoroughly, using lots of soap. The friction restored her circulation to normal, and the soap softens any rough patches of skin on the soles of her feet – thus preventing callouses and corns. Also, as an aid to circulation,she scrubs her back the entire length of her spine. A cool rinse, a sparkling of talcum, and she’s ready for an evening of fun!

In December 1945, Madelon was THE cover girl of the moment. She appeared on the covers of such prestigious magazines like Life, Yank, Seventeen and so on. Harry Conover called her “the wholesome, refreshing type of girlwho looks, just like the girl next door or down the street, but perhaps a little prettier. So she seems like an old friend to the boys whether they on the cover of a candy box, a magazne of a refrigerator ad”. He continued: “Madelon uses very little make up, doesn’t smoke or drink and doesn’t like nightclubs.”

MadelonMasonNewspaperTruly, Madelon was a homegirl, living with her mother in Manhattan, avoiding nightclubs and making very good money of her looks. She earned about 400$ a week during the height of her fame, much better than alternative jobs offered to women in showbiz – being a minor actress, or being a showgirl.  In 1951, she was named one of the overall beauties of the decade, along with such luminaries like Rhonda Fleming, Virginia Mayo, Blanche Thebom and Faye Emerson (while Rhonda and Virginia were incredibly beautiful women, I never found Faye to be a stunner – she was a woman with great personality and talent more than a looker, but to each his own).

While much of the publicity in the 1940s and 1950s was make-believe, Madelon truly was an earthy, calm person who never made any newspaper fodder. Her love life was a completely mystery to the public until she married her first and only husband, Frank Foster in late 1956. Frank worked in the lobster-shirt (a popular name for the shift that covers the late evening and early morning hours) of some newspaper (they just called it News – maybe New York news or something similar?). Madelon gave up modeling work to dedicate herself to family life. Sadly, I couldn’t find any information about who Frank really was, or did they have any children.

Madelon Foster died on September 14, 2011, in New York City, New York.

 

 

PS: Happy new year!! All the best in 2016!!!

NewYear

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Francine Counihan

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Overshadowed by her more popular sister (Anita Colby), Francine Counihan was still a well known model of the 1940s and 1950s, who, with several fellow models, helped usher the golden age of modeling and made an lasting impact on the US advertising world.

EARLY LIFE:

Francine Lynn Counihan was born on November 18, 1915 in Washington, DC, to Daniel Francis Counihan and Margaret Ann McCarthy. Her father, nicknamed Bud, was a cartoonist for the New York Evening World and the artist for the Betty Boop series. Her older sister Anita was born on August 5, 1914.

They family lived in Washington, DC. The girls mother, Margaret, was a very conservative and strict disciplinarian: they were bred to be perfect ladies, always thinking of propriety, with a perfect carriage and maintaining their decorum at all times. It was forbidden to swear or use any “unladylike” language.

Under Anita’s tutelage, Francine started modeling in 1935. As she later reccounted:

Colby started me in ’35. Conover said, ‘Have her come with you on one of the jobs and I’ll talk to her.’ I was eighteen, and Colby was nineteen. Conover said, ‘You’re crazy if you don’t start modeling. There’s so much money in it.’ Well, in those days it was five dollars for an hour and a half. So I went to Powers. He was very interested in people, and he was interested in you being successful. He was a great morale builder. I went into everything. Fashion shows; Sears, Roebuck; Vogue; Harper’s Bazaar; all the catalogs. I went to Canada, and I went to Arizona—any place that there was money.

The girls were social butterflies of New York, frequenting all the places high society cold be seen in: Twenty-one,’ Stork Club, El Morocco, Plaza Hotel. Yet, when they went for dates, it was forbidden to go without a chaperone – if Francine wanted to go out with a man, she had to find a date for Anita so they could chaperone each other. Imagine the many awkward situations that came out of this!

Anita decided to try her luck in Hollywood (she would have better luck as a heartbreaker than an actress), and Francine followed suit.

CAREER:

Again, I quote some of the previous posts about her movie career:

Francine5Her first  credit is  Cover Girl, a now classic Rita Hayworth/Gene Kelly Technicolor musical. While today remembered primarily a springboard for the two stars (Gene Kelly, loaned out from MGM; finally got the treatment he deserved at his home studio after this movie, and Rita crawled out of the B movies and supporting roles in A movies and got her due with Gilda and other great movies), it’s a fun, sweet movie nonetheless. Rita is simply enchanting, and Gene, while his character is  somewhat of a jerk, redeems himself with his superb, athletic dancing. A great and breezy way to pass an hour and a half!

Francine was one of 14 cover girls who appeared in it. The others were Betty Jane Hess, Eileen McClory, Dusty Anderson, Jinx Falkenburg, Cecilia Meagher, Anita Colby, Karen Gaylord and so on.

Francine returned to New York after this and never had another Hollywood role.

PRIVATE LIFE:

On January 5, 1936, at just 20 years old, Francine married Robert J. Riordan in Manhattan, New York. Riordan, born in 1912, was the son of a banker, who finished 2 years of colledge and never graduated. The couple lived in New York, and soon Francine was the main breadwinner in the family.

Their son Robert J. Riordan Jr. was born on October 11, 1936. Their daughter, Francine Lynn, was born in 1940.

FrancineCounihan2Francine continued to model, but only for the money. As she told author Michael Gross for his book, Model, the ugly business of beautiful women:

Colby was more glamorous than I was. I thought glamour was fine, but I wanted the money. She was doing a lot of Vogue and a lot of Harper’s. I was more commercial, and she was more high-fashion. I made a lot of money. See, for me, being a model wasn’t as important as the money. I had a seven-room apartment in New York, I had two children in private school.

Francine and Robert’s marriage was not a stable one and they separated in 1941. They remained separated for six years, until 1947. In the interim, Francine occasionally dated somebody who caught her fancy. In 1946, she was a duet with Richard Carolson, just out of the army.

Francine varied the color of her hair through her long modeling career. She was originally a light brunette, but changed the color to ash blonde in the mid 1940s. She got back to blonde in 1949, just before the end of her career.

Francine married John B. Okie in 1949. Okie was born on August 27, 1914, in Marshall, Virginia. He was an OSS operative during World War II and an international businessman afterwards. They met when Francine and Anita sailed to Europe on a luxury ocean liner (wth many other dignitaries like Rita Hayworth, an Indian maharaja, the Churchills and so on). Churchill was pretty impressed by the sisters, and even gave them a signed copy of his book about painting! There is a funny story concerning the camaraderie between the sisters and the maharajah: he was a free wheeling, great spender type of a fellow, but his government forbade him to spend any more more on women an d gambling as he was deeply in debt. Known for showering ladies with jeweles, he met the two sisters, liked them a great lot, but could not give them the customary rubies or diamonds. The girls, when they came to England, as a consolation, they send him a crystal nipped from a chandelier!

Lets go back to Fancine and John. They lived for a time in Connecticut, before moving to Kent, Rhode Island. Thier mansion in Kent featured a huge swimming pool beyond a set of magnificent floor-to-ceiling glass doors.

FrancineCounihan1Okie was not ecstatic about his wife modeling, and persuaded her to give up that life in 1950. Conover owner her a load of money, but she gave up on ever trying to get it from him. She retired for good after 13 years as a model (a pretty long time for such a fickle job).

Francine Okie died on November 14, 1994, in Kent, Rhode Island. 

Francine’s widower John Okie died on February 6, 1999 in Kent, Rhode Island.

 

Eileen McClory

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The fresh faced beauty was just one of many who tried to make a Hollywood career and failed.

EARLY LIFE:

Eileen June McClory was born on June 1, 1923, in Hartford, Connecticut, to Mr. and Mrs. William McClory. Her older brother was William McClory Jr.

Eileen’s father was a man who, with just 8 grades of elementary school, built his own business from the ground up and employed several people. Her brother grew up to become a professional machinist.

Eileen grew up in Hartford, finished high school there, and moved to Manhattan to become a model in the early 1940s. She was signed by the Conover agency and was soon a sough after model. In 1943, she was summoned to Hollywood to appear in the movie Cover Girl, and opted to stay for the Tinsel Town ride.

CAREER:

Like most girls who came to Hollywood for Cover girl, her career proved to be very thin, but still better than some!

EileenMcClory5Her first credit is Cover Girl, a now classic Rita Hayworth/Gene Kelly Technicolor musical. While today remembered primarily a springboard for the two stars (Gene Kelly, loaned out from MGM; finally got the treatment he deserved at his home studio after this movie, and Rita crawled out of the B movies and supporting role sin A movies and got her due with Gilda and other great movies), it’s a fun, sweet movie nonetheless. Rita is simply enchanting, and Gene, while his character is  somewhat of a jerk, redeems himself with his superb, athletic dancing. A great and breezy way to pass an hour and a half!

Eileen was one of 14 cover girls who appeared in it. The others were Betty Jane Hess, Ceceilia Meagher, Dusty Anderson, Jinx Falkenburg, Helen Mueller, Anita Colby, Francine Counihan and so on.

EileenmcClory3Eileen went on to appear in two more movies, proff that at least she tried to make a career out of it. Her second was movie was They Live in Fear, a WW2 propaganda movie about a German intellectual who escape Nazi Germany after seeing his professor being killer in Dachau concentration camp. His life in America is soon threatened a careless mistake of a colleague. Like many of the propaganda movies, it’s zero art and all “giving a message” movie, but that’s what is to be expect of it. Plus, it gives Otto Kureger, a superb actor, a chance to play the lead (he was mostly a support in A class movies). The movie is little seen today and can be tagged as sadly mediocre.

Her third movie did not fare any better. Carolina Blues, while definitely better known than They Live in Fear, is still a weak movie with Kay Kysler as the lead. Make no mistake, while a very fine musician, Kysler was no actor and it shows, especially when he has to carry a movie. It gets even worse when you notices there is an absurd plot and supporting cast is sorely underused. Georgia Carroll, Eileen’s fellow model who ultimately married Kysler, is a visual delight at least, and who can resist the perpetually enchanting Ann Miller with her all too brief tapping sequence? A below average musical, to sum it up, completely forgettable.

Eileen gave up her career for family after this.

PRIVATE LIFE:

Eileen was not the stunning, classical ladylike beauty, but rather a vivacious, cute girl next door and was quite successful in her niche. Unlike many of her fellow models and actresses, she had a sedate private life and never made any negative headlines.

EileenMcClory4Her love life was never mentioned in the papers before her first and only marriage. In December 1945, just after his discharge from the Navy, Eileen married Walter Crawford Adams Jr.

Walter, born to Dr. Walter Adams and his wife Emma Pool, on September 16, 1919 in San Joaquin, California, was the oldest of three children. He was enrolled into college in Berkeley, California before going to fight into WW2. He served for 25 months with the UN Naval Air Force in the Pacific. The wedding was held at the St. Angeles church in the Pacific Grove, headed by reverend Father Kerf. They honeymooned in the East Coast for a few days.

EileenMcClory6Eileen gave up her acting career to raise a large family: she and Walter had five children, in proper order: William McClory Adams (named after both her father and her brother), born on October 25, 1951, then James Grant Adams, born on February 20, 1953, Steven Robert Adams, born on April 3, 1954, then Thomas Pool Adams, born on July 25, 1955 and finally a baby girl, Carol A. Adams, born on November 30, 1959.

The family first lived in Alameda and then moved to Merced, California, and then went back to Alameda. The Adams’ had a solid, happy marriage that lasted until Walter’s death on June 28, 1981. Eileen did not remarry.

Eileen June Adams died on February 23, 1984, in Alameda, California.

Jean Colleran

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Most female models in the 1940s and 1950s served their due for a few years and happily gave up their jobs for marriage and family. Jean Colleran was one of the few models that lasted more than a decade and became a powerhouse in the industry.

EARLY LIFE:

Jean Pershing Colleran was born on September 7, 1918 to Michael Colleran and his wife, Jeannette Hemmings, in Manhattan, New York City, New York. She was one of four children – her older siblings were Walter M. and Blanche M., her younger sibling was John R.

Jean’s mother was an England native who immigrated to the US and married Michael in the early 1910s.

Jeannette stayed connected to her family in England, and the children went overseas at least twice to visit their grandparents and other relatives. Jeannette’s sister, Maizie, also came to New York at some point, and was living with the family in 1940, along with her son Michael Eby (named after Jeannette’s husband).

Jean attended George Washington high school in her birth city, and later became a talented artist and sculptor studying at the Art Students League in Manhattan. She started modeling while still a schoolgirl, in 1936. Due to her exquisite face, she was quick to become a leading model by the time she was 20 years old. She even purchased her own home and lived in Riverdale, New York, for a time, while her parents lived in Kew Garden Hills, Long Island.

CAREER:

{Since their career were more or less the same, I am repeating this from the post about Betty Jane Hess.}

JeanColleran3Her one and only credit is Cover Girl, a now classic Rita Hayworth/Gene Kelly Technicolor musical. While today remembered primarily a springboard for the two stars (Gene Kelly, loaned out from MGM; finally got the treatment he deserved at his home studio after this movie, and Rita crawled out of the B movies and supporting role sin A movies and got her due with Gilda and other great movies), it’s a fun, sweet movie nonetheless. Rita is simply enchanting, and Gene, while his character is  somewhat of a jerk, redeems himself with his superb, athletic dancing. A great and breezy way to pass an hour and a half!

Jean was one of 14 cover girls who appeared in it. The others were Betty Jane Hess, Ceceilia Meagher, Dusty Anderson, Jinx Falkenburg, Helen Mueller, Anita Colby, Francine Counihan and so on.

PRIVATE LIFE:

Many of the high fashion models of that time married very well. In fact, I’m sure that more models married millionaires than chorus girls and Hollywood actresses! From the 14 Cover girls, several of them married upwards.

Jean was a refreshing change from his rule. While the other capitalized on their faces and bodies, Jean remained devoted to her high school sweetheart, Robert Foster Fuchs. Foster was born to Herman and Josephine Fuchs in 1916 in New York (I guess he changed his surname to Foster at some point). 

JeanColleranTheir wedding, held on August 1943 in Beverly Hills, turned into a media extravaganza since all of the 14 cover girls attended it.  And they all kissed the groom! On a funny note, of all the eligible bachelorette girls, the 5 year old model, Cheryl Archer, caught the bouquet! The couple honeymooned in Florida before Robert was off to Europe to fight in WW2.

Foster got his moment of fame, being married to one of the foremost models in the country. A touching story about Foster was featured in the papers in November 1944 – after not seeing his wife for more than a year, he dozen off during a movie screening on the French-German battle line. When he was awoken by the whistle of a GI, the first thing he was was Jean’s face, looking down at him (they were watching Cover Girl), and he was sure he was still dreaming! Very sweet!

I have no information about what happened to Foster, but I assume he returned from the war and the couple resumed their apple pie marriage. Jean’s Hollywood career never going off the ground, and she worked in New York from then on.

She was still an active model in 1953, by the time most of her peers were already married and retired from modeling. She was even featured in a newspaper article in 1950 where she reminisced about the old days, saying how everything was much cheaper in the late 1930s and early 1940s. Jean was a very savvy woman, saving money by making her own facials, buying nylon hair extensions (as opposed to those made out of real hair which are much more expensive), and made her own false eye lashes! To quote Jean on how to make them:

“Just knot short pieces of your own hair on one longer strand, trim them, and curl out and mascara the hairs. Then glue them on the lashed just like any other false eyelashes.”

In 1958, Jean decided to take matters into her own hands:

Babs Ferguson, formerly with Hartford Agency, and Jean Colleran Foster, former model, have formed a new firm, Foster-Ferguson Agency, to provide advertising agencies and film firms with models for commercials. The new firm is at 141 East 44th St., New York. The agency will provide both male and female models, providing screening service before sending models to casting directors.

BettyJaneHess2So, Jean ended up being a successful businessman too! What a lady! One of her most famous protegees was Martha Stewart, who modeled when she was just barely out of her teens); Virginia Booker, Frances Huff (who was romanced by the Maharaja of Baroda), and the list goes on. The agency was still working in the 1960s.

Jean married her second husband, Daniel Lynch, sometime in in the 1960s. The marriage was terminated, either by his death or divorce, in cca early 1970s.

Jan married her third husband, Francis Cruthers, in the late 1970s. Crithers was an interesting man, as his obituary notes:

Hero firefighter Francis Cruthers, who rose through the ranks to become chief of the Fire Department of New York, and later saw his son reach the same position, died yesterday at 73 following a long illness.

Cruthers became chief of department, the highest-ranking uniformed position, in 1978 and remained in that post until his retirement in 1981. His son Frank served as chief in 1996 and 1997 and is now an assistant chief with the department.

The two are the only father and son to serve as chiefs, a department spokesman said.

Following a stint in the army, where he parachuted into Normandy on D-Day, Cruthers joined the department in 1949.

He served in all five boroughs and was cited twice for heroism.

Cruthers was named Bronx borough commander in 1973 and was promoted to head of the Bureau of Fires in 1976. He held that position, now called head of Bureau Operations, until his appointment as chief.

Cruthers is survived by his wife, Jean, four children and 10 grandchildren.

From this link

Jean did not remarry after Cruthers’ death, and lived for a long time in Southampton, New York. Later, she went on to live with her nephew and niece  Joe and Leeanne Healey in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida.

Jean Cruthers died on April 14, 2011 in Florida.