Ruth Channing

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

EARLY LIFE:

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

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

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

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

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

CAREER

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And that was it from Ruth!

PRIVATE LIFE

Ruth gave a beauty hint for the readers:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ann Corcoran

This phrase is enough to describe Ann Corcoran – Model turned actress. If you read this blog, you know the drill – pretty girl who works in New York and earns good money as a model gets called by Hollywood and she decides to try her luck way down west. Yep, while we have examples that really succeeded (Lauren Bacall), most of them did not, and neither did Ann. Let’s learn more about her.

EARLY LIFE

Katherine Ann Corcoran was born on November 22, 1923, in Los Angeles, California, to Harry William Corcoran and Catherine Josephine Flaherty. Her younger sister, Mary June, was born on March 5, 1925. Her father was an automobile parts salesman. Ann had a normal childhood, grew up in Los Angeles and attended high school there. Before she managed to graduate, in 1939, she went to New York to become a model.

Pretty soon she was the toast of New York and a highly sought after model, working for the John Powers Agency becoming a very popular Swim for Health Girl in 1940 (she was all over the papers for days). Here is a typical article from 1940:

Every year, the Red Cross and bathing-suit manufacturers co-operate to promote “Swim For Health Week.” To choose a national “Swim For Health Girl,” a contest was held among 300 professional models… Ann Corcoran, a John Power’s model, the winner, selected because of a per’ feet figure, wholesomeness and beauty will be in our sixth floor beachwear shop today through Wednesday, July 3rd. She will be glad to discuss with you the proper type suit, how to tan, and any of your swimming problems. Come and see her between now and the Fourth! !

She even appeared with Al Jolson In his stage musical, “Hold On to Your Hats”. Ann was discovered by a talent scout while modeling jewelry for a New York jeweler, was signed by Warner Bros, and off she went!

CAREER

Ann, always uncredited, made her debut in Yankee Doodle Dandy, the classic American musical, with the indomitable James Cagney playing George M. Cohan. The movie is a delightful piece of fluff done the right way, with great music, a sturdy and capable cast, and with that touch of magic nobody can quite name.

Her next movie, despite begin her first credited performance, was a bit of a let down – Escape from Crime, the plot is a rehash form the older Cagney movie, Picture Snacher. A imdb review gave the perfect review IMHO:  No need to recap the already-reviewed plot. The movie is a good example of an assembly line product that studios rushed into production for undemanding wartime audiences at a time when they were crowding theaters in record numbers. The film itself may be unmemorable, but the results still show slick professionalism of the studio system (here, Warner Bros.). It’s also a chance for a newcomer like Travis to get needed exposure. He’s Hollywood handsome, performs capably enough, but leaves no lasting impression and is a good example of an actor whose real medium turned out to be TV. Ditto comedian Jackie Gleason and William Hopper of old Perry Mason show in a bit part. In fact this is precisely the level of entertainment that would later transition to TV without missing a beat.

Ann took a hiatus from movies, and emerged again in Hollywood in 1944, with Tampico, an interesting mix of various genres:  sea adventure, spy thriller, a bit of romance. The leads are played by the very capable Edward G. Robinson who usually never plays romantic leads, and the seductive Lynn Bari. It’s a pretty solid “is she or isn’t she” movie, and more than worth the hour and a half of the viewer’s time. Too bad Robinson’s golden years are behind him at this point – he’s truly a powerhouse actor and always gave magnificent performances.

Next came Take It or Leave It, a totally forgotten Phil Baker musical (literary, I asked myself who is Phil Baker?? Never heard of him!). But we do have the infinitely interesting Madge Meredith in it, google her and read more about her, she had an incredible life story!

Ann’s last movie from this period was In the Meantime, Darling. At first glance a forgettable comedy about army wives during WW2, since this is Otto Preminger after all, you have to ask yourself, what’s the catch – and there is one! Namely, although very cleverly disguised, this is a movie about class problems in the US. Jeanne Crain, quite an unusual choice for an upper class girl (she was always more of a wholesome, cute girl next door IMHO), is good here (if a bit too predictable and thin as a character, but okay), and the rest of the cast is equally is pretty solid too.

An was gone for five years from Hollywood, and returned in 1949, with Dancing in the Dark a dismal drama with William Powell and Betsy Drake. Powell plays a down on his luck former Broadway star trying to strike it again and wants to find a new leading lady. Now, Betsy is someone you can talk about until the cows get home. On paper she sounds superb – the unconventional, smart, and very capable women ahead of her time, who managed to snag and marry Cary Grant and was a Broadway sensation – but in her movies, she’s terribly… Unadept. I can’t even say she’s wooden, but she just acts the wrong way and never hits the right notes. Since she would he the highlight of the movie,m a young hopeful who Powell sees as a next big star, the movie tanks spectacularly and no amount of Powell charm can save it.

Ann’s last movie was Love That Brute, a charming movie with Paul Douglas as the brute (he’s such a wonderful actor, love him!) and the always fresh Jean Peters playing a prim and proper governess whom he tries to woo. The plot is a tad bit predictable, but who cares when you have such a good cast (throw in Cesar Romero).

That was all from Ann!

PRIVATE LIFE

In her prime,  Ann was five feet eight inches tall and weighed 117 pounds, making her a tall, cool glass of water 🙂

When Ann was appearing on Broadway under the name of Bernice Frank, it seems that Ann had a relationship with the legendary Al Jolson, who was by then divorced from Ruby Keeler. Allegedly, Ann had quit his show because docs told her she was allergic to greasepaint, but the relationship continued. Some time later Ann went to Los Angeles, and Jolson tried to keep the flame alive to visiting her a few times in Los Angeles, but they broke up ultimately not ling after she signed her movie contract.

June Millarde (whom I already profiled) and Ann got new contract with Warner Bros at the same time, and they provide minimum salaries of 75 a week and possible maximum of 700 a week. Sadly, neither girl had much of a movie career.

It seems that Anne had a slight lips when she came to Hollywood, and she worked very hard to overcome it, and here is a anecdote from that time:

Six months in Hollywood taking voice lessons to eliminate a slight lisp. Last week she was assigned her first role as a contract player, that of Phil Baker’s secretary in “Take It or Leave It.” She’s, in every scene dealing with the radio show, hands Baker the cards bearing the questions asked each contestant, and all around her there is conversation. Contestants whisper to each other, and In the audience someone shouts in excitement. But Ann Corcoran? Her lisp gone, she hasn’t a line to say to prove

Here is another anecdote from the same time, when Ann was a budding starlet:

Hollywood sometimes tells upbeat stories, and right now it tells the fantastic story of five equally lovely and equally ambitious starlets who are all working together in “I Married a Soldier” without a sign of fireworks. They are Gale Bobbins, Jeanne Crain, Doris Merrick, Jane Randolph and Anne Corcoran, and they help each other. He says Gale, who used to sing with Ben Bernie, Instructs the other girls In poise and assurance. Anne, who was a model, gives them tips on looking their best before the cameras. Jane has had the most picture experience so she coaches the others. And Jeanne and Doris help each one learn her lines.

After dating Alexis Thompson, the sportsman cum bon vivant, for a few months, Ann got hooked big time with John Rosselli, a very shady guy, in about 1942. Born in 1905, he was an influential mafia member working for the Chicago mob who helped that organization control Hollywood and the Las Vegas. He had good taste in women, dated Virginia Hill and Lina Basquette and was married before to the lovely June Lang who originally had no idea what was the true nature of his business dealing, and when she found out, she divorced him immediately.

When Johnny was not in town, Ann remained, uncharacteristically for Hollywood, totally devoted to him, chaperoned by her whole family when she went out dancing, not having any dates. The relationship lasted for more than a year, and they went from high to low then back again. They broke up, got together again, but in the end, no cigar, and were bust by 1944. Rosselli died in 1976 when he was found strangled in Las Vegas. Perhaps it’s better that Ann and Johnny didn’t get married.

Ann also dated Jimmy Ritz, the famous man about town, and here is another funny anecdote from that time.

Jimmy Ritz came up to the cloak room at the Mocambo and absent-mindedly asked for the coat of Ann Corcoran. He often goes with Ann but that night he was with Nancy Valentine who was standing right behind him and heard the slip.

Ann drops of from the radar from the late 1940s. It seems that she never married, and lived the remained of her life in various places in California, lastly living in Orange County.

Katherine Ann Corcoran died on February 28, 1997, in Orange, California.

Poppy Wilde

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

EARLY LIFE

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

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

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

CAREER

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

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

And that’s it!

PRIVATE LIFE

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Her widower Victor Fehrnstrom died on January 11, 2016.

Patricia Alphin

Patricia Alphin came from a family that was deeply integrated into the movie business in Los Angeles, and it was no wonder that she wanted to become an actress. A poor man’s Jane Russell, she was a buxom, pretty girl, but sadly not talented nor lucky enough to cause any ripples in the treacherous seas of Tinsel Town. She had some odd 20 plus movies, and then retired after getting married.

EARLY LIFE

Patricia Cleora Alphin was born on 1927, in Phonerix, Arizona, to Harry Joshua Alphin and Bonnie Humphrey. Her father was a sound engineer, and due to his job the family moved to Los Angeles in 1929 where he started working for motion pictures studios. She had an younger sister, Harree Bonnie, born on March 10, 1931, and a younger brother, Harry Jr., born on August 27, 1935. Both of them were born in California.

Patricia grew up surrounded by movie people and wanted to become an actress from childhood. She attended and graduated from Burbank High School, and, as a true beauty, was active in the local pageant scene.

I don’t quite understand this, but in 1946 Patricia was crowned Queen of the Burbank Bethel of Job’s daughters. Confused? So am I. Anyway, here are some articles about it:

 Jobs Daughters Guests Of North Hollywood Bethel North Hollywood Bethel No. 110, Jobs Daughters, had as guests Bethel No. 97 of Burbank, April 6th at the North Hollywood Masonic Temple. The meeting was presided over by Joyce Hanzel, honored queen of North Hollywood bethel, and Patricia Alphin, honored queen of Burbank bethel. Both the North Hollywood and Burbank officers filled the chairs, with the Burbank’s girls as courtesy officers doing the work.

As a Queen, Patricia had certain social obligations that she did with gusto:

Patricia Alphin Hostesses Tea Featuring the Easter theme In the table decorations, Patricia Alphin, honored queen of Burbank Jobs Daughters, hostessed a mother and daughter tea at her home,  She was assisted by her mother, Mrs. Harry J. Alphin. At a tea table, beautifully appointed with a centerpiece of purple and white sweet peas,  Diane Swagler. Nancy De Celle and Donna Bell poured. Approximately 100 attended the affair.

After graduation, via her dad, Pat started working as a messenger at Universal International studio. She worked in the mail room and zipped around the lot with tons of letters. Literary, she was a female mailman 🙂 It was in this room that she she was was “discovered” and signed to a contract.

After several years of hard work, and many disappointments, Pat got her first big film break. She was given the feminine lead in Abbott and Costellos The Wistful Widow of Wagon Gap. But she was taken out of the role when she was rushed to the hospital for an emergency appendectomy. This derailed her a bit, but as you know, you can’t keep a good girl down, and she was up and running once again, ready for big things!

And off she went!

CAREER

Patricia had a sim career as she was almost never credited, but her filmography is interesting and varied and, what is very important, she didn’t fall into the low budget western trap like many of her contemporaries.

Her first movie was Idea Girl, a totally forgotten Julie Bishop/Jess Barker movie. Her second movie appearance was in Tangier, another completely forgotten Maria Montez WW2 spy movie (but Maria sure was something, definitely not an actress but a powerful personality who lit up the screen). Then came Night in Paradise, an absolutely ridiculous semi fairy tale movie with Aesop as the main character (played by the exotic Turhan Bey), and Merle Oberon, a favorite of mine, sadly completely wasted in a “sensual” role. Not much better was the shallow, stripped-bare crime movie Inside Job, about ex cons who are forces to do another robbery, and Lover Come Back, one of Lucille Ball’s lesser movies where she tries to get even with her philandering husband, played by George Brent (yes, since this was made under Code she doesn’t too anything to drastic, making this a insipid movie).

Patricia then appeared in the serial The Mysterious Mr. M, which, you guessed it, has been completely forgotten and overshadowed by more popular serials. Her movies got a bit better afterwards (but she still was not credited, mind you). White Tie and Tails was actually a charming comedy about a butler who wreaks havoc on the his’ employers house while they were away – you have Ella Raines and William Bendix in it, and I love both of these performers. Then came I’ll Be Yours, another fluffy musical-comedy-romances made by Deanna Durbin, who was so deeply stereotyped by then that she gave up Hollywood not long after (and moved to France, smart girl!).

Since they were at the same studio around the same time, it was logically that Patricia would appear in movies with Yvonne de Carlo. Their first “collaboration” was Song of Scheherazade, a weird biopic about Russian composer Rimsky Korsakov. If nothing else, there is tons of good music and Jean Pierre Aumont (who plays the leading role) is the typical charming Gallic actor, immensely watchable! Pat was then in the above average Abbot and Costello movie, Buck Privates Come Home. Patricia had a slightly bigger role in Time Out of Mind, the first US movie made by the British star Phyllis Calvert. The movie, despite being a box office miss and having some serious problems, is worth watching just to see Phyllis and Helena Carter playing two interesting female characters. And Robert Hutton!! I cannot express my disdain for such a man! In Hollywood, where there were tons of incredibly talented people that never made it, we have a stone-faced, no-talent man with average looks who actually managed to snag some good B class roles. HOW??? Please explain how? I don’t expect every actor to be Laurence Olivier, but c’mon, Robert is a total block of wood when acting, with no charisma what so ever!

Luckily, Patricia’s next movie The Web is a minor film noir classic with a great pairing of Edmund O’Brien and Ella Raines, and with Vincent Price and William Bendix thrown in for good measure. The movie is all about who is going to double cross who, and despite being a tad bit predictable, keeps you guessing. The movie’s strength lies in the strong cast assembled and in the very good black and white cinematography. Next up was Something in the Wind, a typical Deanna Durbin movie (fluff!).

Perhaps the best movie on Patricia’s filmography is Letter from an Unknown Woman, an expertly made, magical but utterly devastating film, a deeply felt lament that manages to touch the viewers on a profound level. The story of a one sided, unrequited love is expertly directed by Anatole Litvak and played to perfection to Louis Jourdan and Joan Fontaine. Pat then went on to more cheerful stuff with Up in Central Park, another Deanna Durbin movie but this time with more zest and spice, and dealing with more than just pure romance – it’s a semi socially conscious movie about corruption in turn of the century New York City. And it has Vincent Price in it!

Patricia scored another very good film noir with Larceny, a John Payne/Dan Dureya/Joan Caulfield movie. Basically, it’s a film about a film about con artists and their techniques with a bit of romance thrown in, and it’s almost educational in this aspect. Pat then appeared in a mid tier Abbott and Costello movie, Mexican Hayride. Next she played a secretary in the very first Ma and Pa Kettle movie, Ma and Pa Kettle.

Up next was Johnny Stool Pigeon, a mid tier film noir with Howard Duff playing an agent who infiltrates a crime organization – always the same plot, but with a good cast and decent atmosphere, it’s an okay effort.  Then came Yes Sir, That’s My Baby, a part sports part ‘battle of the sexes’ drama/comedy film, focusing on the conflict between the desire of college student fathers to play on the football team vs. their responsibilities in providing for their family and helping care for their babies. It’s nothing special, but Donald O’Connor has a few nifty dances in it, and Gloria deHaven and heavenly as always.

Pat’s last movie for Universal International was The Gal Who Took the West, her second Yvonne de Carlo feature. As with most of Yvonne’s movies, it’s a lusty, sensual affair with no great story and little to no character development, but hey,

Expect a small uncredited role in 1980 (in The Return), that was it from Pat!

PRIVATE LIFE

Some of the tidbits Patricia told the papers: “The first thing I wanted when I graduated from high school was a fur coat. It makes a young girl feel that shes really grown up, and it makes that impression, too. You feel good in it, no matter what kind.

Patricia married her high school sweetheart, John W. Moorman, in a ceremony at 8 p.m. on June 28, 1949. The wedding was not without mishaps: Bonnie Alphin, Pat’s sister, lay on a stretcher as she served as bridesmaid because she was injured in an auto accident en route to the church. An ambulance took Bonnie from the scene of the crash to the church where and after the ceremony Bonnie was whisked to a hospital for X-rays of a back injury. Bonnie later recuperated fully.

A bit about the groom. John William Moorman was born in Los Angeles on December 28, 1926 to Paul Samuel Moorman and Aida Stephens. During the war he was an Air Corps member, and later attended Occidental College. The couple honeymooned in Mexico City.

The Moormans settled in Los Angeles had two children, a son, John Scott, born on May 14, 1951, and a daughter, Julie Kathleen, born on September 2, 1954. Little is known about their life, they continued living in Los Angeles, with Patricia long retired from movies.

Patricia and John divorced in September 1974. Moorman remarried to Marilynn Barber in 1976 and died on November 9, 1995.

Sadly, Scott Moorman, Pat’s son, died before his mother in unusual circumstances. He was a very gifted athlete and a Monroe High School running back. After get married, siring a son and getting divorced, he moved to Maui from Granada Hills in the mid 1970s and was an active sailor. In 1978, he went missing while on a fishing expedition, and his skeleton was found 10 years later on the Marshall Islands. It is possible that he lived like Robinson Crusoe on an deserted island for years. This is an incredibly intriguing but somber story, and learn more about it on this link: One dusty track.

Patricia falls out of the radar from then on, and I have no idea what happened to her. As always, I hope she had a good life!

Ila Rhodes

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

EARLY LIFE

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

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

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

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

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

CAREER

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

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

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

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

That was it from Ila!

PRIVATE LIFE

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

Here is a bit more about Ila: She likes to sing and dance and does both well. She’s a fine horsewoman, a fact she concealed for a time fearing to be typed westerns. She plays’ tennis and dances to keep fit, diets mildly, attends the Methodist church, drives a two-year-old car, doesn’t care for jewelry. She rises early, saves her money and reads a good deal. Her best friend Is Ida Lupino. Her natural ‘blond hair and startlingly blue eyes are the kind that delight cameramen. She also gave a recipe for a special bleaching masque. To a whipped up egg you add the juice of a big lemon, then apply it to your face and leave it on for a half hour. Take two facials each week.

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

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

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

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

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

Here is a bit about Bennett:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Clarice Sherry

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

EARLY LIFE

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

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

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

CAREER

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

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

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

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

That was it from Clarice!

PRIVATE LIFE

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Agnes Craney

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

EARLY LIFE

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

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

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

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

CAREER

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

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

And that was it from Agnes!

PRIVATE LIFE

Agnes gave a beauty hint to the papers:

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

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

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

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

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

Mary Jo Mathews

Mary Jo Mathews did not go down the usual starlet route. A fine Southern miss, she was a college graduate who first seeked her fame in the theater, and only by chance ended up in Hollywood. Sadly, Hollywood, did not work out for her, but she married a successful agent and led a happy family life. Let’s learn more about her!

EARLY LIFE

Mary Josephine Mathews was born on April 11, 1909, in Mannington, West Virginia, to Harry J.  and Blanche Mathews. Her older brother, Marshall, was born in 1904. Her father owned a drug store. The family was well of, lived in Mannington and employed at least one maid. Mary grew up like any other upper middle class Southern girl, and it was clear from her teen years that she was a stunning beauty with a strong penchant for dramatics.

After graduating from Mannington high school, Mary enrolled into the West Virginia university at Morgantown. Mary, a lush brunette with a soft Southern accent, was a hit with the lads, and in 1927, when she was a sophomore, she was voted the most beautiful girl student on the campus.

Next year, she was chosen by the students as “Miss’ “West Virginia University, and not long after, was named by Governor Conley as West Virginia’s representative at the annual rhododendron festival at Asheville, and later  attended the Shenandoah Apple Blossom festival in Winchester in the spring of 1929 as “Queen Shenandoah VI” . It seems that Mary really did do extensive social rounds and was very successful in those stakes. Back then, Mary Jo planned to become a school-teacher and received an AB. degree from the University of West Virginia. Then She won the Winchester Ky.) Apple Blossom Festival prize for beauty in 1929, after which she went to New York, married an actor and decided to become an actress herself, and there was no turning back!

Mary Jo became a member of the cast of “The Band Wagon,” Broadway’s revue success, and starred the head of a road company which was presenting one of the George White’s Musical company. Then she was a member of the cast of “Let ‘Em Eat Cake“. In the interim, Mary worked as an understudy. In a later interview she claimed that to became an understudy one had to be at least three times as talented as the leading lady to get the job.  At one point, Mary was understudying three roles – for Adele Astaire, the dancer; Roberta Robinson, a singer, and Helen Carrington, comedienne. Naturally, Hollywood noticed her, and she was signed to a contract, and of she went!

CAREER

Mary Jo made her debut in Twentieth Century, one of the funniest comedies of the 1930s, with the unbeatable combo of John Barrymore and Carole Lombard. No comment needed, just watch the movie and laugh! Barrymore is such a large ham you can’t help loving him, and Lombard is a pixie charmer to boot!

Mary Jo played a small role in Society Doctor, here is a review from Imdb: Morris plays a hotshot young Dr. Morgan in a metropolitan hospital, and Taylor is Dr. Ellis, his friend, who is a little less ambitious. Instead of being laser-focused, he wants to enjoy life, too. Both of them are interested in the nurse Madge (Virginia Bruce). She’s in love with Morgan but he’s too dedicated to get involved with anything but medicine. Ellis, however, makes a big play for her. When Morgan gets in trouble with the head of the hospital, he contemplates becoming a society doctor, and a patient (Billie Burke) offers to set him up in practice.

The movie is actually interesting as we have on unlikable main character, played by Morris as a hotheaded, stubbornly foolish all-too-focused doctor, and a young and stisl not quite polished Robert Taylor as his friend/rival. Virginia Bruce is as lovely as always, too bad she never became more than a B class star. Mary Jo’s next movie was the completely forgotten One New York Night.

Mary than appeared in tow movies that are well known and regarded today. The first one was Reckless, a William Powell/Jean Harlow drama, based on the infamous Libby Holman/Zachary Reynolds case. The movie starts of as a sparking comedy, a genre which Harlow excelled in – she’s tops, and Powell and May Robson, as her support, are in a high class too. However, the movie turns into a over the top melodrama in it’s second half, and this jarring change of pace somehow kills the overall effect, although it’s watchable and not at all that bad. Franchot Tone is impeccably elegant as a wastrel playboy who lusts after Harlow, and Rosalind Russell has a small role (which is always a plus, when Roz appears in a movie). Mary Jo plays a chorine.

The second movie was Mad Love, based on a book, with an implausible plot (taken from an imdb review): Dr. Gogol (Peter Lorre) is a brilliant surgeon who is obsessed with actress Yvonne Orlac (Francis Drake). She tells him she is leaving the stage to be a full time wife to her husband Stephen Orlac (Colin Clive), a concert pianist. Gogol is crushed. Stephen Orlac loses his hands in a train wreck. At the request of Yvonne, Orlac grafts on a new pair of hands to Stephen. Unfortunately, they happen to be the hands of Rollo, an executed murderer who loved throwing knives. It seems the hands have a life of their own–Stephen can’t play the piano anymore but can throw knives accurately and he has a desire to kill. He slowly starts to go crazy. Gogol again tells Yvonne that he loves her. She rejects him and Gogol cracks. He sets out to drive Stephen mad–and drive Yvonne into his arms.

But, as the reviewer wrote, the plot is completely secondary to the sheer brilliance of Peter Lorre, absolutely killing it as the man doctor. Whenever he’s on the screen it’s impossible to even look at somebody else, such is his magnetism! The movie also gives a good role to Colin Clive, a tragically underrated actor whose career never gave him the chance to truly shine. Frances Drake is nice enough as the doctor’s object of desires. The movie is very good at conjuring a non-bloody horror feeling, and stands very well today. Sadly, Mary Jo was literary just an extra and the role made on impact on her career. She only made one more short movie before retiring.

And that was it from Mary!

PRIVATE LIFE

Mary was musically inclined and knew how to play the piano and the organ. As a special peculiarity, she also broke mirrors for good luck.

Mary married her first husband, Charles Coleman, in Marion county in 1929. Charles Bradford Coleman was born on August 14, 1905 in Pratt, West Virginia to Charles Bradford Coleman and Margaret Caldwell Frazer, one of three children. Mary and Charles tried their luck together in New York, lived for a time in Chicago (guess for work related reasons) in 1930, but the marriage did not work out and they divorced in 1933. Coleman went to Hollywood and acted under the name of John Bradford. He had credited roles in movies like 365 Nights in Hollywood and Life Begins at 40, but gave up movies in 1937. He died on June 29, 1993 in  Charleston, West Virginia.

When she came to Hollywood, Mary Jo had a pet dachshunds and often hung out on the beach at the Del Mar Club, Santa Monica. While in Tinsel town, Mary was tutored by dramatic coach Earl Hinsdell to become a star. Here is a short description of the process:

Mary Jo Matthews is one of the “students” who. in Hinsdell’s opinion, will reach stardom in three sears. of years no difference, as a real star will stano out in any picture. “I regard the preserving of individuality as most important in my work of coaching is to be willing to train potential stars for that length of time longer if necessary. This trio is comprised of Agnes Anderson, Mary Jo Matthew and Margaret Ehrlich. Hinsdell has his own method of training, which may be at variance with the ideas of other coaches but it has proved rather successful so far. Myrna Loy. Jean Parker and Robert Young all are graduates of his school. When Myrna Loy went to him about a year and a half ago she was practically through in pictures. For years she had been cast in exotic siren role. He detected a flair for light comedy, developed that quality and launched her on a new career which already has carried her far beyond any goal she had been able to attain before. First of all. this instructor refuses to put his students through a routine training which stamps them all alike. For the most part he trains them individually. However, he frequently brings them together in groups to give them the fundamentals of timing, shading and the ability to fit their voices to those of their co-workers. He also insists that all of his students take singing lesson, the theory here being that the singing and speaking voice really is the same and the development of one helps the other. “Then there are long periods of reading aloud to develop round tones. “It sounds strange, but I am quite insistent that my students go to art galleries and study the works of the old masters,” declares Hinsdell. “I also advice them to acquire a knowledge of the history that is behind most of these great works. “Such a procedure seems remote to most of the students, just as it does to outsiders. but such a study can have a very definite effect upon acting. To be a good writer. artist, sculptor or actor one must have both a knowledge and understanding of beauty. And there is no place this can be found better than in an art gallery. “I do not think a person can express that which he has not felt, or at least understood. All art is expression. Thus one helps another.” HINSDELL believes in allowing those he trains to think for themselves. He shows them the right and the wrong then lets them work out the rest. He feels that he has failed as a coach if one of his graduates is not ready to go with any director. His students must learn more than just to do things his way. They must learn to act. To further their experience, he stages frequent shows at a local theater. This gives the youngsters an actual stage training that is of infinite value. They learn how to appear at ease before an audience, get a taste of real audience reaction, and gain a confidence which can be acquired in no other manner. Besides, it gives studio executives and directors an opportunity to see the potential talent which is at their disposal. Hence these student are certain to be given a chance to display the results of their training in front of the movie cameras. As for the average movie-struck girl or lad who has visions of being a star of 1940 or some later date, Hinsdell’s advice i “forget all about pictures.” “Most of these hopefuls have no talent.” he explains. “They’re just mesmerized by that state of mind called Hollywood and they’re due for disappointment if they hold on to the idea. “Of course, to those among them who do have talent and something to give, my advice would be no barrier. If that alone would stop them, they wouldn’t be worth anything anyway. “Those who are really serious about acting should become affiliated with a Little Theater group. More and more, producers of both the stage and screen are realizing that their greatest source of talent is the Little Theater. With such a training behind them, young men and women are already thinking and acting more or less like troupers when they enter professional work.”

Interesting, but sadly neither of the girls mentioned achieved any real success, although I do think that his method is very good.

In 1935, Mary eloped from Hollywood to Yuma, Arizona., with Arthur William Rush, studio executive. Arthur was born on April 2, 1907, to, in Graysville, Pennsylvania, to, one of six children. His siblings were brothers Malcolm, Clarence and Charles and his sisters were Elizabeth, and Helen. The family left Greene County when his father was transferred to Ohio by Columbia Gas. William lived for a time in Hanoverton, Ohio, before moving to California in 1931. William was a graduate of Bethany College, and quickly became West Coast manager for RCA Victor.

In the fledgling Los Angeles recording industry in the 1930s, Rush produced radio shows and recordings by Glenn Miller, Dinah Shore, Igor Stravinsky, Arthur Rubenstein and others. In 1937, Rush left RCA and became an agent for Columbia Management of California, a CBS subsidiary, where he managed the careers of Mary Martin, Vladimir Horowitz, Orson Wells and others. He formed his own talent agency in 1939, Art Rush Inc., from which he managed Nelson Eddy for 22 years, in addition to  Jackie Gleason. He also discovered and launched the career of tenor Mario Lanza.

The couple enjoyed a happy, harmonious marriage, lived in Los Angeles and had two children, two sons, William Arthur Rush, born on August 25, 1936, and Robert Nelson Rush, born on January 14, 1943.

The Rushes were especially close to his clients Roy Rogers and Dale Evans. In fact, Arthur and Mary served as best man and matron of honor  when Roy and Dale were married. Rush became Roy ’s agent after they met in a Hollywood restaurant in 1941. Their collaboration was sealed with a handshake and the two men never signed a formal contract. As a sign of devotion, Rogers’ best-selling book, Happy Trails, was dedicated to Rush and contained a glowing message of thanks for helping Rogers become a legendary Hollywood star.

In his later career, Managing  the Sons of the Pioneers, Rogers’ musical group, became the focus of Rush’s work. He was the mastermind behind the marketing of more than 400 products and establish more than 500 Roy Rogers Restaurants, in association with Marriott Corp. Rush called his 48-year collaboration with Rogers and Evans “the richest experience anybody could hope for in the entertainment world.” Roy’s son said of him “He wasn’t just an agent. We called him ‘Mother Rush’ because he took care of dad and the Pioneers.

Mary Josephine Rush died on September 30, 1988, in Los Angeles, California.

Her widower Arthur William Rush died of complications from a Thanksgiving auto accident on December 2, 1989.

Prudence Sutton

Prudence Sutton was one of many nice looking small town girls that crashed Hollywood hoping for at least a glimpse of fame. Unlike man others, she was noticed and given a starring role in a not inconsiderable feature. When the movie failed, she lasted for a few more years in Tinsel Town with no great success, and in the end traded it all for a stable family life. Let’s learn more about her.

EARLY LIFE

Prudence Lovicia Sutton was born on April 24, 1907, in Sayre, Oklahoma, to Walter and Hattie Sutton. She had an older sister, Allie, born in 1904, and tow younger brothers, William Walter, born in 1909 and Tyson, born in 1911. Her father was a minister, her mother a housewife. The family lived in Beckham, Oklahoma in the 1910s.

Prudence attended Sayre high school and had a normal upbringing in a loving, tightly knit family. However, Prudence’s carefree teen years were abruptly cut short when her father was shot and slain by a cattle rustler not long after she graduated from high school in 1925. Her mother, a very resourceful woman, took the children and moved to Southern California. There Prudence got into movies in 1927. How exactly? Well, a bathing suit contest!

Prudence entered a Bathing’ Beauties most beautiful contestant. While she did not win, she and six other girls, Margaret Andrews, Evelyn Hunt, Caroline Burt, Josephine Hoffman, Harriet Mathews and Lorena Rhodes won cash, prizes, and, ultimately, a studio contract, and of she went!

CAREER

Prudence made only two movies in her short career: Pitfalls of Passion, a silent movie from 1927, and Paramount on Parade, a sound feature from 1930. I usually don’t write much about silent movies since I am not well versed in them, but since Pru made only two, let’s concentrate a bit on them. Her first movie, Pitfalls of Passion, was supposed to be her jump of to fame, as it was her very first role and a leading role at that! Pru plays a demure and slightly bewildered country girl who runs off to the city with her lover. Then as the unfortunate victim of circumstances who is sold into moral bondage, and finally as the woman of the streets—beaten and forlorn.  The papers heralded Pru as a natural talent, noting that Miss Sutton gives a sterling performance that is startling because of its realism. It was quite an expensive movie to make – at one point, there were 800 people appearing in mob scenes. The movie is completely forgotten today, sadly.

Prudence’s second feature was Paramount on Parade, a pastiche of various stars singing and dancing. Forget about the story, about characters or anythign remotely deep – this is fun, pure and simple! As one reviewer from IMDB nicely sums it up:

When “Paramount on Parade” was filmed – Paramount had more musical stars than any other studio. The other studio revues (MGM’s “Hollywood Revue of 1929” and Warner’s “Show of Shows”) may have been more flashy but most of the stars were not singers or dancers and people went for the novelty of seeing their favourites trying to sing or dance.

There is little reason to see the movie today, unless one is a old musical buff, but there are worse movies one can watch!

That was it from Prudence!

PRIVATE LIFE

Prudence had a very stable and peaceful love life – she married young businessman Joseph Bonadiman on April 11, 1931, in Los Angeles. Joseph E. Bonadiman was born on March 21, 1903, in California, to Carlo Bonadiman and Domenica Passarini, one of four children (he had a brother, Charles and two sisters, one of them Mary). His parents were both immigrants from northern Italy (which was under Austria-Hungary at that time). Prudence gave up her career in 1931 to marry and devote herself to family life.

The Bonadimans had a solid middle class family life. Their first son was born on Joseph Carlosutton was born on August 24, 1932 in Los Angeles, and their second son, William Walter, on June 21, 1935, also in Los Angeles. Joseph became a director of the San Bernardino Valley Municipal Water District and head of the civil engineering firm of Joseph E. Bonadiman & Associates, which was founded in 1942. His obituary nicely sums up his life’s work:

Engineer Joseph E. Bonadiman, who pioneered hillside developments from Hollywood Hills to San Bernardino, died of heart Tailure Monday at Redlands Community Hospital, his relatives said Tuesday. He was 86. “He was the first engineer to do hillside developments of any size in Los Angeles County,” recalled his elder son, Joseph C. Bonadiman. Chavez Ravine now home to the Los Angeles Dodgers was among the early projects. In San Bernardino’s steep foothills, he engineered developments near David Way and later throughout the Verdemont area. Although he had become less active during the last five years, he never fully retired. His last  day at work was Friday. The son of immigrant Austrians, Bonadiman came to California as a boy. He lived briefly on a 160-acre apple ranch in Apple Valley, where he arrived by wagon through Cajon Pass. He earned his engineering degree at UCLA where he once sold a used tuxedo to classmate John Wayne. “My dad needed some money and Duke Morrison John Wayne needed a tuxedo, so they traded,” his son said. Working as an engineer in a largely undeveloped state, Bonadiman found himself helping to build bridges, dams, subdivisions and a few airfields. “He designed Ontario International . . . Hawthorne . . . and a couple I don’t remember,” said his son.

In 1960 the family moved from Los Angeles to San Bernardino where the engineering firm had already developed extensive
business connections. The Bonadimans nicely blended with the locals, and soon became a well known town staple couple, and Prudence was very active in the local catholic church and various charities.

In early 1966, Prudence had been taken ill. She had been hospitalized for more than a week and was apparently holding her own when an embolism, or blood clot, in the lung resulted in death on January 10, 1966. She was buried in San Bernardino.

Joseph Bonadiman died on January 29, 1990, in San Bernardino, California.

Kay Harding

 

Kay Harding was a pretty small town girl who dreamed big, went to California to attain fame and fortune, worked as a truck driver (interesting no?), and even managed some minor success in Hollywood before giving it all up for marriage. Let’s hear more about her.

EARLY LIFE

Jackie Lou Harding was born on January 5, 1924, in Cushing, Oklahoma to James and Thelma Harding. Her younger brother, Buddie Harding, was born two years after her in 1926. Her father, James, born in Colorado, worked in the oil industry as a laborer. Jackie grew up in Cushing in a normal, middle class family, and had an unremarkable, stable childhood.

Yet, there was a hunger for fame in Jackie, and by the time she hit puberty, she was active in local beauty pageants and had designs to become an actress. She attended Northeast high school in Oklahoma City, where she was elected “All-Around Girl” of the school, and once won a contest in a bathing beauty show. After graduation, Jackie left for California, hoping to realize her long time dream of becoming an actress.

In 1944, in Cushing, via a telegram, word had been received that Miss Jackie Lou Harding had signed a contract with Universal Studios in Hollywood, and her career started!

CAREER

Kay first appeared in Tinsel town films in Weird Woman, a well-paced, tightly knit horror movie with a great trio of lead actors – Lon Chaney Jr., Anne Gwynne and Evelyn Ankers. The plot is pretty basic (Chaney, as a professor at a college returns from a visit to a South Seas island with his native wife, played by Anne. His vindictive ex girlfriend, played by Evelyn, tries to her revenge. Chaney makes his wife burn all her superstitious, good luck charms, the things go horribly wrong), but the script is crisp, the performances fitting and the spooky atmosphere on point. Kay moved to more cheery fare with Hi, Good Lookin’!, a sugar coated, cute, and music-filled movie with nothing really memorable about it, but it’s good enough to watch on a Sunday afternoon. This was followed by Follow the Boys was another all star extravaganza they used to make during WW2 purely for patriotic reasons and not really for the art – Kay was just one of many stars and starlets who appeared in it.

Kay’s last four movies were all horrors/thrillers, and are the reason she is remembered (if at all), today. The first is The Scarlet Claw, one of the Basil Rathbone/Sherlock Holmes movies. What more do we need to say about this serial? All Sherlock fans will love it, and even people beyond the circle – they are after all very well made movies with a outstanding cast. Kay’s last movie was also another from the same Sherlock Holmes series, The Woman in Green.

Kay also made one horror comedy – Ghost Catchers, featuring the team of Ole Olsen and Chic Johnson. The story is a cardboard cutout – a spooky mansion which is, surprise!!, located next door to a night club is the place, and the characters are a Southern colonel and his two daughters. The movie, albeit short (a bit more than 60 mins) features a great deal of music, which can be either a detriment or a joy, depending on your own preferences. it’s not really a scary movie, of course, it has a few funny gags and Johnson/Olsen are their usual selves. Kay plays a minor role, so she’s blink and you’ll miss her.

Kay’s most famous and enduring movie today is The Mummy’s Curse, the fifth and final installment of Universal’s mummy series and the third to star Lon Chaney as the ancient Egyptian priest Kharis pursuing his much desired princess Ananka. The plot is same old, same old, closely following the last installment (An irrigation project in the rural bayous of Louisiana unearths Kharis, who was buried in quicksand twenty-five years earlier.) but fans of old school horror will love this – it’s Lon Chaney, after all, and everybody who cares about horror loves to see a mummy chasing after frightened people. Kay has a lively role as a doctor’s assistant, a good girl opposed to Virginia Christine’s bad girl (Ananka).

That was it from Kay!

PRIVATE LIFE

Allegedly, before Kay became an actress, she was a helms-woman on a delivery wagon. While I cannot gauge how true this story is, it makes for interesting reading if nothing else:

This business of writing pieces about Hollywood has gone completely haywire. Today, to keep up with things, we had to interview a lady truck driver. Or rather an ex-lady truck driver now in the movies. But gash, we couldn’t quarrel with Universal studio for signing up a lady truck driver. She was beeeutiful. Streamlined chassis. Fancy grill work. Nice paint Job. Sturdy upholstering. No miss in her remote. A real traffic stopper. Her name is Kay Harding. Her parents came to California about two years ago and Kay immediately tried to get into pictures. No luck, so she got a Job driving a truck for the U. S. Rubber Company in Los Angeles. One day she had to deliver some synthetic rubber to Universal studio for Claude Rains mask in “Phantom of the Opera.” Kay, wearing a trim uniform, drove her truck on the lot and there was a good deal of whistling. Dignified studio executive Dan Kelley also saw her. “He called me over,” Kay said, “and asked a lot of questions. I told him I had acted in high school plays, with the Community Players in Whittier, Calif., and that I was dying to get into pictures. He said to telephone him in a few days, maybe he could arrange a screen test.” “I was so excited,” she said, “I drove through a traffic signal and got a ticket.” Kay took the screen test. Studio executives looked at the film and gave her a contract. She made her film debut as a secretary in “Phantom Lady,” then played the ingenue lead with Basil Rathbone and Nigel Bruce in “The Scarlet Claw.” It’s probably a good thing there is one less lady truck driver on Southern California’s highways. Pin-up girls behind the wheel of a truck, Kay Harding said, are bad on morale. Not to mention fenders-and life and limb. “Gosh,” she said, “they let me drive that truck only three days after I got my driver’s license. I didn’t know the streets, or anything about a truck. I backed into a parked car the first day and smashed up a couple of fenders.” Then there was the convoy problem. “I’d be driving down the street,” Kay said, “and pretty soon there would be a lot of cars bunched around me. The guys in them would wave and whistle. If I slowed down, they’d all slow down. If I drove faster, they’d tag right along. It’s a miracle we all didn’t crack up in one colossal accident.” Then there was that California state law which prohibits a woman employee, even a lady truck driver, from lifting anything weighing more than 25 pounds. “I’d drive into a place,” Kay said, “with some heavy packages. I’d ask someone to carry them in. Well, the word would get around that there was a lady truck driver needing help, and 50 gents would leave their work to come outside and help me.” Kay said she earned $25 a week during the two months she drove the truck. “But every time I dented a fender, or got a traffic ticket, they took it out of my salary.” Kay said she didn’t keep score, but there were quite a few dented fenders. But only two traffic tickets one on the day she was promised that screen test. “Gosh,” Kay sighed, “it’s wonderful. When I quit my job the boss said I could come back and drive the truck any time if things in Hollywood didn’t pan out.”

Kay’s private life was pretty stable and low-key. Like many starlets, she did her bit for the war relief, and so met her future husband, who was serving in the Navy then. Kay and L. N. “Loyd Pat” Patterson, A.M.M. 2nd Class, were married in 1944 in a double ring ceremony at the Wee Kirk o’ the Heather, Glendale. The ceremony was performed by Rev. M. Owan Kellison with Patricia Martin, Kay’s only attendant, as maiden of honor, and Tom Stone, A.M.M. 3rd Class, the groom’s fellow sailor, as best man.

Unlike some wartime marriages, the Pattersons’ marriage was a happy and harmonious one, and produced a daughter, Michael Lyn, born on February 23, 1946, in Los Angeles. The couple moved from LA to Soledad at some point after Michael was born. Kay had given up on the acting world by then and was content with her domestic life.

Kay and Loyd lived in Soledad for many years before moving to Tracy. When she got sick, she was moved to a facility in Palo Alto, California.

Jackie Lou Patterson died on in Palo Alto, California.