Tanis Chandler

Unlike many starlets, Tanis Chandler came from an upper class background, and when she decided to crack Hollywood, she hired a good enough publicist to do a major publicity stunt – namely, try to sell herself as a man! In time or actor-shortage (due to the war), this otherwise pathetic stunt worked, and Tanis found herself playing leading roles in B movies. Sadly, she never broke the mold to become a true success, and retired after marrying.

EARLY LIFE

Anne Scott Goldwhaite was born in Nantes, France, on August 20, 1924, to Henry Chandler Goldwhaite and Leone Lorfray DeRousier. Her father was a noted American pianist, organist, composer and conductor. He used this name for classical concert work but adopted the name of Rex Chandler for popular music work. Tanis’ mother was French. She had a younger sister, Patricia, born in 1929.

Tanis was educated in Paris, with private tutors, and at the Westlake School for Girls in Los Angeles. For a brief time she was educated in Mexico City, where she learned to speak Spanish. From earliest childhood, Tanis had an interesting calendar: Four months of each year she spent in the United States with her father, whose professional work required these visits; three months of each year were spent in England for the same reason. The rest of the year the family resided with Tanis grandmother in Nantes or in the apartment they maintained in Paris.

In 1936 the Chandlers came to New York, planning to reside permanently in the United States. Tanis’ father conducted the Ford and other radio shows, then became seriously ill. Forced to help out on the family finances, Tanis became a model while going to school. She worked for Powers, also free-lanced, appearing in many well-known advertisements extolling nationally known products. She continued this work when she came to Hollywood.

CAREER

Tanis started her career as a woman in uncredited role for RKO. her first appearance was in Higher and Higher, one of the few films where Hollywood tried to capitalize on the alluring Michele Morgan, then a major French movie star. What can I say, Hollywood totally failed to use this incredible actress, and she languished in low quality productions for a few short years int he mid 1940s. This movie is one of those – thus, unless you want to see Michele, not really worth watching.

Then came Janie, one of those idealized, thus completely unrealistic family movies Hollywood made during the War to keep up the moral – all the kids are wonderful, all the parents are wonderful, all the families are perfect. But still, they usually are heart warming, touching movie,s despite their lack of plausibility. Here we have Joyce Reynolds, forgotten by time and everybody else, and Robert Hutton ditto), so the cast isn’t even top-tier. Saving grace is definitely Ann Harding! Love her! She played mother roles by then, and she was superb in it, just like in anything else she appeared in. Similar in theme and feel was Music for Millions, another cutie pie musical, this time with Margaret O’Brien and June Allyson.

Tanis became a man for Wanderer of the Wasteland, a Zane Grey western. No comment needed.

Tanis was one of the tons of girls in George White’s Scandals. Tanis appeared in Cornered, a solid but not outstanding film noir with Dick Powell. Worse for wear was Dick Tracy, first of the low-budget series, but Tanis’ movie got better by a narrow margin.

Then came a role in The Madonna’s Secret. Now, this is an example of a movie that actually outshines its modest origins – concocted as a B movie with a slight story and no big acting names in it, a sturdy director, good cinematographer and capable actors make it work, and warrant it a watching many years after it was made. Next was lackluster Cinderella Jones, followed by the Bronte sisters biopic, Devotion. Not the best biopic ever made, but a good one nonetheless.

Tanis was then in Ding Dong Williams, a piece of silly, nonmemorable movie making. Another not quite memorable movie was The Catman of Paris, where she was even credited, but this sub par copy of Cat people didn’t raise anyone’s profile, Tanis included. She had a leading female role in Shadows Over Chinatown, a Charlie Chan movie, so we can say that at least Charlie Chan enthusiasts know her name.

Unlike many actresses on this site, Tanis appeared in a bona fide classic – The Big Sleep. She had a small role as a waitress, but this is still enough to warrant cinematic greatness (ha ha).

The rest of Tanis career is actually impressive, considering her modest starts – she played leading, or at least credited roles, despite the quality of the movies being dubious (to put it mildly).

For instance, Spook Busters, a Bowery brothers movie, perfect for boys of 13-14, and not much else… And then Affairs of Geraldine, the forgotten Jane-Withers-charms-everybody movie. And Jane always plays overgrown teenagers… it got a bit better with another Charlie Chan, The Trap. And then there was Lured, a very good thriller made by (surprise!) Douglas Sirk. Yes, the same Douglas Sirk who did glossy female melodramas like Michelangelo did statues. And yes, there is more to Sirk than it meets the eye! And an outstanding cast – Lucille Ball, George Sanders, Boris Karloff

After such a good movie, The Spirit of West Point seems like a total letdown, and ditto for 16 Fathoms Deep, an insipid, no very original underwater adventure film with a B cast and C production values. Tanis was playing leads – just not in the best movie, it seemed. from 1949 until 1952 Tanis was busy in TV production, and made her two last movies in 1951 and 1952 respectively.

The first, According to Mrs. Hoyle was a cheap Monogram programmer where Spring Byington, as an elderly schoolteacher, tried to reform some jaded criminals. Sounds wacky? Oh yes, but Spring is a gem and worth watching almost anywhere. Tanis’ last movie, At Sword’s Point, was a fun and breezy swashbuckler with Maureen O’Hara and Cornel Wilde – while it’s not a bad movie by any stretch of imagination, it’s hard to distinguish it from the hundreds of similar swashbuckler movies.

And that was it from Tanis!              

PRIVATE LIFE

Tanis was 5 feet 5 inches tall and weighed 119 pounds. She had deep blue eyes and lovely taffy-colored hair.

During her childhood Tanis wrote fiction and poetry and enjoyed considerable success in selling it. She still wrote during her Hollywood years, but only as a hobby but no longer made a serious effort to sell her work. She was interested in music for the pure enjoyment it affords, and in drawing and painting. Also she also spoke French and Spanish fluently. Due to her knack with languages, she did the French dubbing for about 30 foreign versions of pictures.

While attempting to get a foothold in Hollywood, Tanis supplemented her modeling with more than a year’s work in a Beverly Hills stock brokerage firm. Except this, she also did a teaching stint at the Goldthaite school, a kindergarten with an enrollment of 30 children, which she and her mother operated on the famed Sunset Strip in the 1950s. Also, another part-time job – modeling! Besides appearing inside the stylish magazines regularly and on numerous covers, she commuted between Paris and New York offices of the magazines with all expenses paid.

Tanis hit the papers for the first time in 1944, where she was a subject of a clever PR stunt (I refuse to believe it was anything else). take a look:

Pretty Miss Tanis Chandler did all right in masculine film roles, until she got a part as an un-shirted laborer. Then Miss Chandler had to say “no,” and tell Warner Bros, she was really a girl. She explained that she had tired of her job as a teletype operator and had capitalized on the current shortages of male extras. But before the unmasking, she successfully portrayed the role of a sheik in “The Desert Son”–her curves concealed by a long flowing Arab robe.

While they claims that she is earnest tried to sell herself offas a man, I highly doubt this – okay, if Tanis was a sturdy woman whose built at least went on the stronger side – but she was a slip of a thing, weighting a bit more than 100 pounds – such delicate man and few and far between. So, while it was possible, I do think was a stunt to make her more recognizable for the movie going public. It’s not like Hollywood never did such shenanigans. It was this, plus her voice, that landed her a contract with RKO.  Allegedly, an executive studio heard her voice on one of the first OWI programs to General MacArthur’s invasion troops and Filipino guerillas on Luzon, learned who she was and hired her.

In 1945, wealthy heir Bill Hollingsworth was often seen with Tanis. He even took her mother dining, meaning it was serious. She spent her 21st birthday with Bill, but by next month she was with Paul Brooks at Lyman’s. John Auer came next, but he didn’t last that long. In 1946, Tanis was seen with Al Herd at the Trocadero with some frequency.

In 1948, Tanis made headlines for an unfortunate accident. Here it is:

Blond screen actress Tanis Chandler was resting Monday following a brush with a leopard. She suffered gashes on her arm Sunday when attacked by the big cat at Trader Horn’s wild animal farm. Miss Chandler, who is starring in a film titled “Gee, I Tamed a Lion,” was training for the role when she was attacked

In 1949 Tanis was quite serious about attorney Milton Golden, and was a speaker at several woman’s gatherings, describing her recent trip to France and Belgium.

Tanis Chandler and Milton were quite strong for a time, going to double dates with Barbara’ Lawrence and Turhan Bey. Unfortunately, this also failed in the long run and they broke up in 1950.

In 1952, Tanis married music publisher Paul Mills. Here is an article about her wedding:

The lovely bride is the daughter of Mrs. Chandler Goldthwaite and the late Mr. Goldthwaite and her bridegroom’s parents are Mr. and Mrs. Irving Mills. Newlywed Mrs. Mills, known professionally as Tanis Chandler, was given in marriage by Harold Lloyd. Her wedding gown was fashioned of ivory-pink satin and a band of pale pink rosebuds held her shoulder-length veil of heirloom Brussels lace. She carried a cascade of stephanotis and pink miniature roses. Tanis and Paul left for a honeymoon in Northern California after the wedding

Paul Mills was born in 1922, in Pennsylvania, to Irving and Bessie Mills, one of seven children. He grew up in Brooklyn, New York, where he got into the music scene, and ended up in Los Angeles in the late 1940s.

On May 30, 1952, Tanis gave birth to a daughter, Amy Beth. Three years later, on May 14, 1955 a second daughter, Priscilla Leone, was born. Tanis happily slid into family life, far away from Hollywood and newspapers.

Paul Mills died in 1999.

Tanis Chandler Mills died on May 7, 2006, in Sedona, Arizona.

 

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Nadine Dore

Nadine Dore had a pretty standard career path – beautiful girl who aspired to become an actress, stared dancing young, worked as a chorus girl, and got to Hollywood via the pageant route. And it all ended with Nadine, barely in the 30s, retiring from movies after a string of uncredited roles. Let’s learn more about Nadine!

EARLY LIFE

Pyhllis Nadine Redman was born on September 18, 1912, in San Jose, California, the only child of Joseph M. Redman and Nina Koehler. Her father was a florist.

Phyllis grew up as a California beach girl, very much interested in the performing arts, dreaming to become a dancer and actress some day. She started attending beauty pageants when she was 13 years old, and pretty soon was a regular on the circuit, winning more of them than not.

After Nadine graduated from high school, she packed her bags and moved to New York, becoming a show girl. Nadine proved to be quite popular as chorine, but for unknown reasons she returned to California a year later. She became a member of the cast in the revue at the Hollywood Music Box.

1931 was a big year for Nadine, and one can say that Pyhllis Redman became Nadine Dore right then and there. In a short time-span she was successively named “Miss Los Angeles” and “Miss North America” in beauty contests. After she became Miss North America, Hollywood came knocking on her door, and she started her acting career that same year!

CAREER

Nadine appeared as a Goldwyn girl in the aptly named Palmy Days, a very good Eddie Cantor musical. Don’t expect any real depth, but there are plenty of funny lines, physical gags and good music, so that’s all we are asking for! Then came Good Sport, a perfect example of the best of elegant Pre Code comedies, with an implausible plot (a woman unwittingly rents an apartment from her husband’s mistress while they are both in Europe – whoa Nelly!) , but made with a dash of style and panache! The only minus is that John Boles is in it – one of the least memorable wooden faces ever! And he always plays the nice guy (boring as heck). But a plus to Linda Watkins and Greta Nissen, both underrated actresses!
Next up was The Scarlet Brand, a forgotten Bob Custer western. Ditto Bill Cody’s Law of the North. Luckily, Nadine went back to non western movies afterwards. A Parisian Romance  was another funny pre-Code sexual romp, the kind of they don’t even make today.
Nadine got her first credited role in A Strange Adventure, a Regis Toomey/June Clyde murder mystery. Imagine a cheery 1930s film noir and you’ve got it.
Nadine was then in Dancing Lady, a Joan Crawford musical, where Joan plays, surprise, a working girl who becomes a star! So atypical for our Joanie, no? While this movie is no masterpiece, I love it – mostly for Franchot Tone, whom I generally adore. His relationship with Joanie is the movie was tops! Sadly, this means her proper romance with Clark Gable (as the male lead) just didn’t do it for me. Ah, that happens when you act opposite your husband and your lover in the same movie!
Next: She Couldn’t Take It, a very-rich-and-plain-crazy-family doing some crazy things screwball comedy in t he mold of My Man Godfrey (made several years later). Unfortunately, the leads, played by George Raft and Joan Bennett, fare better in non comedic roles and don’t quite have the punch to make it work, but the supporting cast is tops (Billie Burke, Walter Connolly, Donald Meek…).
Nadine lost her contract, and decided to give herself a seocnd life under a different name, Carol Wyndham. Carol appeared in as a lead in the low-budget western, Roamin’ Wild. But that was about it with leading roles. She was back to uncredited role with The King Steps Out, a totally romanticized version of the Franz Josef/Sisi courthsip (much like the popular 1950s movies with Romy Schneider, not grounded in reality one bit, sadly). The movie has Franchot (as Franz Josef) so it’s a go go go for me! Sisi is played by Grace Moore, whom I find to be a bland actress to meh! Carol marched on. Venus Makes Trouble is a completely forgotten comedy, and Start Cheering is actually a pretty decent romance musical with Jimmy Durante. And that was it from Carol Wyndham.
Nadine’s last two movies, made under her original name in 1937, long after the code had taken place, were When You’re in Love and Women of Glamour, both inspired, made-by-the-book comedies with no real merit…
And that was it from Nadine!

PRIVATE LIFE:

Nadine weighted 116 pounds in her prime and had brown hair and sparkling blue eyes.

Nadine boasts a unique distinction of probably being one of the few chorus girls in history that owned an airplane and were able to fly It.  She was a proud proprietor of a swallow plane in which she took lessons in plain and stunt flying under the tutelage of Finley Henderson, stunt aviator. Prior to the purchase of the plane, when she was about 19 years old, Nadine had acquired a reputation for air stunting, but had never flown a plane.

Nadine married her first husband, Chester G. Miller, in Yuma, Arizona. Like most dramatic elopement cases, the marriage went kaput in short order. Already in 19134 there was this mini-scandal in the papers:

Beauty Charges Beating in Her Divorce Plea Nadine Dore Miller, screen actress and former beauty contest winner, filed suit in Superior Court yesterday for divorce from Chester G. Miller. Last Monday after accusing her of being too friendly with another man he beat and choked her, she charges in her complaint. They were married last April 22. As Nadine Dore Mrs. Miller won title of “Queen of Beauty” at the First National Beauty show in 1929 and in 1931 she was acclaimed “Miss North America” at the Ocean Park Municipal Auditorium.

Obviously that was hardly a high quality marriage. They divorced not long after.

Nadine Dore Suing To Rescind Contract 3 (Bv Associated Press) LOS ANGELES, Dec. 15 Nadine Dore, who two years ago was acclaimed as having the Ideal physical measurements for a screen actress, today filed suit against the Fox Film corporation to have rescinded a contract under which she never was paid more than $49 a week as an actress.

As we already learned elsewhere on this blog, suing a studio in the 1930s was a really, really bad idea, especially if you were a non name actress with no thick background. Olivia de Havilland and Bette Davis did it later in the 1940s, but they were both famous actress with plenty of clout – and Nadine most certainly was not.

So, Nadine decided to try again. he changed her name to Carol Wyndham, and tried to pick for stardom. As you ould read in the Career section, this also backfired. She did get some minor newspaper coverage over it – here is an example article:

Carol Wyndham started winning beauty contests when she was 14 and won too many. She says now it is hampering her chances for a motion-picture carer. She has changed her name to shake the jinx and has just been assigned a small part in a film.

She won the beauty contest titles of ” Miss Southern California” in 1927 ” Miss C a 1 i f or-nia ” in 1929, and “Miss North America ” in 1931, was espied playing a featured bit in the Carole Lombard-Fredric March picture, “Nothing Sacred,” at Selznick’s. Miss W y n d h am has her first speaking part in this film. Commenting on her long apprenticeship as a film dancer and part of the “beauty background” in so many pictures, this actress, now 24, uttered the following sage remark: “Too good a shape is a detriment for a girl in the movies. If a girl wants to be a star, it is her personality that she must make noticeable. ” After I won those beauty contests I thought for a while that I was wonderful But a couple of years in the movies knocks that feeling out of you,” she continued.

But no, it wasn’t really enough to fix the jinx. Nadine retired from Hollywood after Carol Wyndham outing, and married for the second time to Dell Henderson in Idaho in 1941.

Unfortunately, there was nothing else I could find about Dorine. According to the IMDB, she died on April 20, 1992, in Riverside, California. As always. let’s hope she had a happy life!

 

Adele Lacy

A Midwestern girl came to Hollywood armed only with a nice face, good body and some dancing skills, and actually got a chance to play leads in low-budget movies. This could go both ways – either it’s a springboard to something better or it’s a peak of an otherwise abysmal career. Unfortunately, Adele Lacy suffered the former fate, and after an initial short blast spent the rest of her career in the chorus.

EARLY LIFE

Adeline Charlotte Fergestad was born on September 8, 1911, to Morris Fergestad and Mina Johnson, in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Her paternal grandparents were born in Norway, and Mina’s family were also of Norwegian stock, making Adeline of the Minnesota Scandinavians. Her older brother Marvin was born in 1910. Morris Fergestad was a postal clerk at the local post office.

The family lived in Colfax Avenue, Minneapolis with two lodgers. Adeline was a vivacious red-haired child who had a knack for dancing and performing – she often played leads in local shows. She studied under Ruby Helen McClune of the Junior School of Expression. Beautiful and talented, she was appearing in several Kiddie Revues at the State theater, subsequently taking minor roles at the Schubert theater. When McClune went to Los Angeles to learn more dancing techniques, Adeline accompanied her. She loved the city, and vowed to return one day. But it was back in Minneapolis for now. Adeline’s first claim to fame was appearing in a Gus Edwards revenue in 1926 – she was chosen among hundreds of other Minneapolis dancers.

As for academia, Adeline attended Jefferson Junior high school and West school. In 1928, before Adeline graduated from West high school, she packed her bags and left for Hollywood, hoping to break into movies after getting some slack by appearing in Gus Edwards show.

In Tinsel town Adele attended Hollywood high school, from which she graduated that same year. She did dancing work and some minor uncredited work in movies (could not find any information about what movies). In 1933 her luck changed when she got picked From 1,000 actresses to be a leading lady for a series of western pictures starring Lane Chandler. And thus her career started

CAREER

Adele’s first known role, and one of the few where she was credited, was Vanishing Men, a lost low-budget western. Adele had the dubious honor of playing leading roles in two more low budget westerns The Wyoming Whirlwind and When a Man Rides Alone. While none of these movies have any impact on the world of film, viewers actually seem to like When a Man Rides Alone and it got strong kudos! You could say I was surprised – I never expect anybody to watch these old cheapies. Obviously, people still like Tom Tyler and watch his movies, but the question was, did Adele benefited from acting opposite such a western icon?

Short answer, no. Like most B western heroines, Adele’s career went nowhere fast. While she started pretty good – leading roles after all, it was dissolved from then on, and she remained a chorus staple in some good movies, but she was still just one of the chorus girls, rarely noticed.

She was a Goldwyn girl in The Kid from Spain, the ultimate Goldwyn girls classic. She was also in the legendary 42nd Street, and this is for sure the highlight of her career. It seems that being a Busby Berekely chorus girl was a career path many girls took when they arrive in Tinsel town. Too bad only a small fraction outgrew this fun and quite limited function.

Adele appeared in Busby’s movies with an almost alarming frequency: Gold Diggers of 1933Footlight ParadeRedheads on Parade. They are all the typical Berkeley musical – slim plot but lavish dance numbers and a whole loads of scantily clad girls to go over.

And sadly, that was it from Adele

PRIVATE LIFE  

Adele had natural red hair, hazel eyes, was 5 feet 2 inches tall and weighed 114 pounds in her prime.

Adele married her first husband, Madison S. Lacy, in 1929. Madison was born on August 2, 1898 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. He worked in Hollywood as a stills photographer from the late 1910s. He later became a successful cheesecake photographer and took photos of many famous pin-up girls and actresses. His best known work are the stills of Ingrid Bergman from 1944.

Madison undoubtably helped her wife carve her path in Hollywood, but other than that little is known of the marriage. They divorced about the time her career came to an end, cca 1935. Madison remarried to actress Lois Lindsay and died on April 26, 1978.

In 1935, Adele left her movie career to become a special correspondent in Shanghai, China for a U. S. news syndicate. She was there for roughly a year, and then moved to London, England, also as a correspondent. After a year spent in London, she returned to New York, went back to Minnesota for a short time, and decided to take the big plunge and get married again. My guess is that she met her future husband during her two years outside the US, but anything is possible.

Adele married Walter Abel Futter in December 1937. Futter was an interesting, larger than life character.

Futter was born on January 2, 1900, in Omaha, Nebraska. Walter and his brother Fred were known in the early 1930s as the “junk-men of filmdom” because of their successful stock footage library. The two started buying negatives of bankrupt firms and amateur cameramen in 1926, calling their firm “Wafilms.” By 1928 they made profits by buying “short ends” of movie reels and selling them at big prices. Futter also produced short movies for Columbia studios, specializing in travelogues – his biggest ace was Africa Speaks – where a Colorado expedition visited Africa. In a world before internet, where a majority of the population never left the continent, and where Africa was a half mythical country, these movies were a smashing success. He tried to repeat the formula several times after, but never managed to react the success of Africa speaks. He was also one of the first filmmaker to show a zombie on-screen.

Futter was married once before, in 1927, to Patricia Elizabeth Murphy, they divorced a few years later.

In 1938, the Futter moves to London, where he produced British movies. When the war started in Europe, they returned to the US, living in New York. The Futters moved to Market, New Yersey, in 1944.

Reports Wife Missing On Trip to Manbattan New Market Police announced last night that Mrs. Adele Futter, 34, of Poe PI., had been missing since noon Tuesday when she left in her car for New York City. According to Arthur H. Schlun-sen, police chief of Piscataway Township, Mrs. Futter was last seen in Manhattan Tuesday by her doctor whom she visited during the day. Five feet two inches tall and weighing 120 pounds, the missing woman is the wife of Walter A. Futter, producer of motion picture short subjects and travel films. The Futters moved to New Market approximately one month ago.

And here is it how it ended:

Mrs. Walter Futter, 34, of Coe place, former actress, who had been missing for nearly a week, has returned to her home, police revealed today. The woman, who had left home last Tuesday to visit a physician New York City and then mysteriously disappeared, stated last night she had been visiting in Moorestown, Pa., and did not realize her husband had been alarmed about her. Futter notified police late Sun day night he was satisfied where wife was and asked the tele type alarm be recalled. Mrs. Futter stated she had telephoned a woman friend she knew the Orient while in New York City and discovered there had been a death in; the family. She decided to visit the friend in Moorestown and had asked someone to telegraph her husband to that effect Evidently, she said, in the excitement of the invasion, the telegram had not been sent. Mrs. Futter immediately tele phoned her husband when she read in the paper she had bee missing and came home yesterday. Her husband is a producer of motion picture shorts and travel forms.

This look normal to you? I am on the edge, this kind of gaffes can happen all the time, but something I feel something fishy… Maybe Futter was just an overtly dramatic man?

I’m guessing that Futter wasn’t  a picnic to live with (larger than life people seldom are), but the information about the union is scarce so no concrete evidence for that. Aside from that, the Futter lived in a small farm and even started to grow animals. Here is an article:

“Little lawnmowers” is what Mrs. Walter Futter of Burnt Mills Farm, Burnt Mills, calls the flock of sheep and lambs which she and her husband have on their farm. They advertise ‘today, “Choice milk-fed Easter lambs.” Mrs. Futter said that when they decided to get a few lambs some time ago, they were going to buy three “just to keep the grass down.” Instead, they got a flock of 24 and discovered they had to be fenced in properly or they eould eat flowers and shrubs as well as grass. Now the flock has grown to 80 and the Futters sell Easter lambs. Mrs. Futter also told us that the sheep is called “the animal with the golden hoof because Its manure, pounded into the ground with little hoofs does not disturb the sod and prevents weeds from growing. This is the kind of sod sold for landscaping. Mr. and Mrs. Futter also have a riding horse, chickens and French miniature poodles,

In 1953, Adele learned she had cancer – after a traditional treatment in the US, she moved to Mexico City for alternative treatment. Unfortunately, it was too late for Adele.

Adele Lacy Futter died on July 3, 1953 in Mexico City, Mexico, survived by her husband and brother.

Adele’s widower, Walter, married painter Howard Hoyt s ex-wife Betty Bartley in November 1955.

Betty got pregnant a short time later, and the awaited their child in June 1956. Unfortunately, when the baby was born it lived only 8 hours. Their one year marriage perished with it, and they were divorced by late 1956. However, the soap opera hardly stops here! In early 1958, they were in court again:

Walter Futter, 58, who is being sued by his blonde showgirl wife, Betty Futter, 35, for separation and $’.00-a-week temporary alimony, made it known today that from now on he wants her to pick up her own tabs. In a paid newspaper advertisement, Futter said: “My wife Betty, having left my bed and board, I am not responsible for her debts.” Futter was served with a complaint in Betty’a action last Friday. In her papers, Betty charged he was “insanely jealous,” falsely accused her in public and private of infidelity, and frequently beat her up.

The drama came to a halt when Walter Futter died on March 12, 1958.

 

Audrene Brier

Audrene Brier was a dancer who failed to become a proper actress, and mostly appeared in chorus girl roles. What sets her apart from tons of other chorus girls that never broke into acting is the fact that, after her “acting” career was over, she became a choreographer of repute and effectively had a second life in Tinsel town!

EARLY LIFE

Audrene Ethel Brier was born on September 28, 1914, in Los Angeles, California, to Huber Benjamin Brier and Lillian Abraham. Her father was a carpenter, her mother a housewife. Her maternal grandparents were British. She had an older sister, Lucille, born in 1912.

She was a child actress at 3, a protegé and a discovery of Gus Edwards, and worked in bits all during her younger years, but unfortunately I could not find these credits. Audrene was also enamored of dancing from the star – she had studied ballet with Ernest Belcher (father of Marjorie Champion) for ten years and tap dancing with Nick Castle for almost the same length of time. I assume she also attended high school, but could find no information about it.

Audrene was also socially active in various pageants and parades all around Los Angles, even winning awards for her frocks several times (it seems Audrene was a clothes horse!). However, she didn’t make a “proper” movie until she signed with Warner Bros in 1933, and off she was!

CAREER

Audrene’s career can be divided into three very distinct chapters. The first one were her dancing days in the early 1930s. She entered movies in 1933, under contract to Warner Bros. Her first movie was Gold Diggers of 1933, the best of the Gold Diggers string of movies. Warren William plays the lead what can I say, I love William and find him one of the best Pre-code actors. The plot is good enough, music and dancing are superb – exactly what you would expect from a Busby Berkeley production. Unfortunately, the rest of her output didn’t soar as high. It’s Great to Be Alive is an idiotic musical cum SF (yep, you heard that right), Too Much Harmony  is a typical Bing Crosby musical of the early 1930s, nothing to shout about. Audrene made three more musicals for Warner Bros, and all three of them were mediocre fare at their bets, and totally forgettable at their worst (Stand Up and Cheer! , All the King’s Horses and Redheads on Parade). She was literary one of thousands girls that came pouring to Hollywood every year, get their small chunks of movie time in the chorus, and get forgotten in a year or two. However, Audrene decided to stick around and make something more out o her not-to-impressive career.

She sailed to the UK in the mid 1930s, and tried for  a career there. The pickings were slim, but they were there – Darby and Joan , a completely forgotten comedy, Wise GuysThe Reverse Be My Lot , both likewise forgotten, but Audrene was credited in all of the movies and actually appeared on-screen outside the chorus line. While not much, it still was something. The war looming in Europe, Audrene returned to the States, and settled into a dancing life.

She returned to movies in 1941, and this begins the third “chapter” of her movie career – back to the chorus or at least to lightweight comedy. The first movie was Down in San Diego, a solidly done wartime adventure/comedy with all the usual suspects – Nazi spies, military secrets, the navy and so on. Bonita Granville is in it – that’s a slight plus if nothing else. Audrene played a secretary in Born to Sing, a formulaic and not especially good ‘let’s put on a show’ film – it’s decidedly B class material and that’s that.Even more preposterous was Joan of Ozark, a Judy Canova idiotic wartime movie where she singlehandedly foils a German spy ring. As one reviewer wrote, it’s a “propaganda films of very dubious quality”. While Judy can be amusing at times, the story is most certainly not. Like many other starlets, Audrene was in Parachute Nurse, and ended her career in Call of the Canyon, a cheap but able musical western. And that was that!

PRIVATE LIFE

After leaving movies for the first time, Audrene worked as a professional dancer. She appeared in Chicago fairs and doubling at the Congress hotel with Billy Taft for a partner and to Eddie Duchin’s music. She also did some nightclub work in both New York and Chicago, before returning to Los Angeles. Why did she return, you may wonder? Simple – love.

She married Nathan Rosenberg on February 12, 1936, in Los Angeles. Nathan was born on 1904 to Maurice Rosenberg and Sarah Carr. His uncle was renown producer Carl Leamme. Known as Nat Ross, he worked in the film industry as a director under his uncle’s guidance. He was a veteran of over 60 directing gigs by the time he married Audrene, and a well-known staple in Hollywood. Yet, his career was effectively over by 1931, and he dreamed of other, better opportunities for his talents.

Buoyed by a union of two artists who wanted something better than just scraps, Ross and Audrene decided to go to England, where he went inot producing movies and she acted in several of his features. The movies proved to be When she came back to America, she decided that she had enough of being an actress, and she devoted herself solely to being a dancer, thus returning to the chorus once again. Unfortunately, she and Nat separated, and by 140s, she was living with friends in Los Angeles (she is listed as their guest). Then, something quite horrible happened. Nat Ross, Audrene’s husband, was killed in a shooting in February 1941. Here is a brief article about it:

Nat Kerns, 36, identified by Detective-Lieutenant C. A. Gillan as a former movie producer and director, was shot and killed last night in a doorway of a rag factory of which he was foreman. Maurice L. Briggs, 25, a recent employee of the plant, was arrested a few blocks away. He was booked at city jail on suspicion of murder. Among 25 women witnesses to the shooting was Briggs’ wife Betty, 21, an employee of the factory. They were married five months ago. Gillan said Ross, also a part owner of the plant, formerly managed a New York city theater, then became a film salesman, joining the old Universal studio in 1920. He was an assistant to the late Irving Thalberg, produced “The Leather rushers” and “The Collegians” and for years was a director in Hollywood and a producer in London. Ross was married four years ago to Audrene Brier, an actress. Gillan said witnesses told him Rosa discharged Brings a month ago, re-employed him, then discharged him again two weeks ago. Carl Lacmmle, Jr., son of tho late head of Universal Studio, and Robert Hartman of Hollywood, a cousin of Ross, conferred with Gillan at the police station following the shooting. Laemmle identifield himself as a close friend of the dead man.

Unfortunately, there is only a brief mention of Audrene in the article, and it doesn’t mention their marital state, but I guess they were still separated when the tragedy happened. But anyway, it was a terrible blow to Audrene. She recuperated by working in movies again, and slowly moving from the front of the camera to behind the camera – she became a dancing teacher, and in time, a choreographer. he racked up some impressive credits to her name – Jolson Sings Again and Million Dollar Mermaid , just to name the most famous. Here is a short peek at her choreographing days:

 Audrene Brier to Assist Cole – Audrene Brier has been set as choreographic assistant to dance director Jack Cole on Columbia’s Cinemascope Technicolor musical, “Three for the Show,” which stars Betty Grable, Marge and Gower Champion and Jack Lemmon. Jonie Taps produces and H. C. Potter directs. Miss Brier previously served Cole in the same capacity at Columbia, when he designed the dances for Rita Hayworth in “Gilda” and “Down to Earth.”

Audrene married, secondly, to prominent set decorator Norman Rockett, a 06 Oct 1946 in Los Angeles, California. Rockett was born Norman Walter Harrison on August 8, 1911, the son of a laundry route salesman and a lingerie saleswoman who lived in Long Beach. After his parents divorced and his mother remarried, he took the name of his stepfather, Al Rockett, an executive with First National Studios in Burbank. He was drafted into the army during WW2 and served int he Pacific Theater – He had been assigned as a naval photographer’s mate to the Pennsylvania, only to arrive for duty a month after the ship was damaged in the Pearl Harbor bombing of Dec. 7, 1941.Later he used this experience when making sets for his most famous movie, Tora tora tora!

The couple lived quietly in Sherman Oaks (Audrene did mostly choreographing jobs by now, with no acting in sight), and raised a daughter, Susan, born on March 31, 1948. It was a harmonious and happy family life.

Norman Rockett died on April 5, 1996. Audrene Rockett died on January 13, 2002 in Los Angeles.

Patricia Mace

Hello! So sorry for not updating sooner, but due to a bad case of Reylo “fever” I was detained elsewhere 😛 Anyway, what can we say about Patricia Mace? She was literary one of thousands of girls who started as models and then decided to become actresses with no real training and only minimal experience. You can guess how that story ended…

EARLY LIFE

Meredith Patricia Mace was born on May 10, 1920, in Los Angeles, California to Warren Kenneth Mace and Helen Mar Smith. She was the youngest of four children – her older siblings were Janis, born in 1911, Warren, born on January 31, 1913, George William, born on November 1, 1918. Her father was a furniture salesman, her mother a housewife.

Her parents divorced in the 1920s, and her father remarried. In 1930, Patricia and her siblings were living with their father and stepmother in Los Angeles. As she matured, it was clear that Pat was a true brunette knockout, and she was a model by the time she was in high school. Pat was very eager to succeed and quite active – she tried to put herself out there on the modeling and acting circuits much as she could. After some bits and pieces, she managed to make a huge splash in 1938, when she was chosen as “Miss Motion Pictures”. Here is a short description of what made pat a contender to win:

Alluriance! She exuded charm and tin sort of sex appeal.that causes a strong man to feel new strength, but of a protective kind; she carried everyone back to the primitive, when men guarded their women with their lives. ‘ v Study Patsy’s photo. You will find, as we did, facial allure, a Helen Hayes’ type of charm, demureness, naivety, a schoolgirl freshness. You will not find glamour, but you will find radiance and positiveness. Veiled Fire Close examination of Patsy In the flesh reveals a veiled fire In her eyes, indicating capacity for deep feeling; a mouth pleasantly curved, denoting firmness and generosity; a nose like Katherine, Cornell’s, Indicative of sensitivity, and a forehead of noble proportions, ‘” , . . But Patsy has a bad point she is too tall. However, she can do as Kay Francis has done so often during her career , , . she can act in her stockinged feet. We’ll keep the camera line above her ankles. Because of her positive personality, Patsy Mace can play only leads. She’s the type that men want to fight about. Go to your mirrors, girls, and check ‘ your qualifications against Patsy’s Perhaps you will understand better the problems of the talent scout.

By the time she was touched by fame, Pat had graduated from Hollywood High School and worked in some Little Theater groups. To make life easier, she moved in with her mother (her younger brother also living with them) in 1939. And she was ready for stardom (that never came, but who knew it then?). Due to her new title, she was signed for a contract, and of she went!

CAREER

Pat never had a credited role in a movie, which is almost the norm with the girls I profile here.

Pat’s first movie was Grand Jury Secrets, a completely forgotten John Howard/Gail Patrick movie. This was followed by The Magnificent Fraud a very fun and effective Prisoner of Zenda style romp, with Akim Tamiroff playing an actor who must impersonate a dictator of a small South American country. I usually love this kind of movies, so I’m biased, I admit.

$1000 a Touchdown was a below average football drama with Joe E. Brown and Martha Raye. Sadly, Pat’s next movie, Disputed Passage, is forgotten today, but the plot, concerning a doctor who falls in love with a Chinese girl (played by Dorothy Lamour, as per usual in Hollywod of that time!) sounds very interesting. Too bad even IMDB has nothing on the movie! Same goes for Our Neighbors – The Carters – a totally forgotten movie! Next up was The Great American Broadcast, an early Alice Faye musical, and not a bad one at that. While no classic, it’s a serviceable product, with a good cast and solid music.

Then came Aloma of the South Seas, a typical “Dorothy Lamour in a sarong” movie. No big plot, no big characters, just exotic visuals, pretty as a button Dorothy and a handsome stud for the love interest. Still better than Fifty Shades of Gray! Sadly, Pat’s next movie, All-American Co-Ed was a cheap and short Frances Langford vechicle, and boy, it shows! Not recommended! Louisiana Purchase a Bob Hope/Vera Zorina musical, and it’s while no great achievement, is still a very good musical and quite funny in some places, and generally a good movie.

Pat’s movie turned serious with This Gun for Hire, a classic film noir. Nothing more needs to be written about the movie! Alan Ladd + Veronica Lake – always a watchable combo. Her good luck continued – she was cast in Road to Morocco, one of the famous Road movies. A must watch for all Bob Hope fans, but an acquired taste IMHO. Now it was time for some movie “Magic” – Arabian Nights! Jon Hall and Maria Montez, Sabu, Technicolor (and lots of it!), an exotic location, simple black and white story, dancing-girls galore – what more do you need? The plot is actually almost non-mandatory for such movies. Pure enjoyment, specially since it was made during WW2 when people really needed something like this to distract them. Happy Go Lucky, her next movie, wads made in the same vein, just it’s a musical with Mary Martin and Dick Powell. Truly a happy-go-lucky movie, as the title says. Similar were Prairie Chickens, a goofy but likable comedy and Crazy House, a Ole/Johnson comedy with the indomitable Cass Daley. Her next movie was Ladies Courageous, the story of the Women’s Auxiliary Ferrying Squadron. Loretta Young is nice in the leading role, and she has some pretty good support with Geraldine Fitzgerald and Diana Barrymore.     

In 1943, near the end of her career, Patricia changed her name from Patsy Mace to Patricia Mace, and with her new moniker, appeared in only two movies, The Powers Girl  and Riding High and neither of them is a piece of art! Unfortunately, in the end we can call Patricia movie career completely lackluster 😦

The Powers Girl is a… How to call it? It’s an overtly dramatic, not particularly smart movie. While is does have it’s good sides – good set design, nice to look at, plenty of beautiful girls – it has none of the substantial things that make a movie great – no character development, no great narrative, no particular depth. A plus is definitely the music, which is above average quality, mostly thanks to Benny Goodman.

Riding High is a very, very mediocre musical/comedy. Literary no better r worse than the hundreds such movies that were made yearly. Thus, as I said a hundred time on this blog, there is no real reason, 50 years later, that anyone would watch this one. It has a formulaic story that is barely a cover for a string of musical numbers. The music and dancing are forgettable. The actors are competent but nothing to shout about (Dorothy Lamour and Dick Powell – not their best work). The movie is too forgettable to have any impact today.

That was it from Patricia!

PRIVATE LIFE

The papers revealed that Patrici had brown hair and eyes, was 5 feet 6 and a half Inches tall, weighed about 120 lbs. It was also written that she could cook and a good and fancy diver and plays golf in the high 80’s.

After she won the title of “Miss Motion Pictures”, Patricia’s life changed rapidly. She was a born and bred California girl who hung out on the beach most days. In a matter of days, she was boarding the Matson liner Matsonia at the Wilmington dock for a sojourn in Hawaii, and was very much excited. Why? Well,  believe it or not, that was Pat’s first time going anywhere, really, since by then she had never been out of Southern California.

Here is a number of questions and answers that Patricia gave in 1943:

“Do you girls look forward to get ting married eventually?” “Yes! I know I’ll make someone a wonderful mother,” said Pat Mace, “I’m the maternal type.”
“What is your conception of an ideal man?” “It’s impossible to form a categorical conception of the ideal man,” said Pat Mace. “I’ll know the guy when he comes along!”
“What do you think about your job: “Modeling.” opined Pat Mace, “is one of the most stimulating professions offered to women. There’s no harm in trying.” .
“What is the principal topic cf conversation with Powers Girls?'””Men 100 per cent!”

By this time, Pat had been the girlfriend of Jack Warner Jr. for almost three years. They started dating not long after she broke into movies, in 1940. Pat literary dated Hollywood royalty – Jack was the son of Jack L. Warner, one of the founders of Warner Bros. Jack was born on March 27, 1916, making him only a few years older than Pat. They were often seen at the posh places in Hollywood, and it seems that his parents approved of Pat. They seems to have been very happy for a long time, but then Jack was drafted into the war and things started to change. He moved to

By late 1943, their relationship was plundering downwards fast. Pat dated Billy Wilkerson on the side, but still couldn’t shake of Jack. In one last desperate attempt to keep it all together, they decided to get married. She would come to New York and they would wed. In November, there were newspaper items that the news that Patsy was going to New York to wed Jack Warner, Jr. were slightly premature. She did go to New York, but to do modeling and perchance a play with no thought, so far, of matrimony. It seems to me they were playing Will they won’t they, but both knew deep down that they wouldn’t do it when the moment came.

Then, in early 1944, something monuments happened. Pat met the man she would marry – and guess what, it wasn’t Jack! To be blunt – Pat went east for modeling jobs and to be near Jack Warner, Jr., but then met young, handsome and wealthy George Clark, a Canadian Air Force officer. He was from a prestigious Canadian family. They hit it of right away, and started dating. The the end of the month they were engaged. So, after about three years with Jack Jr., Patricia literary ditched him for her crush of three weeks. And it proved to be the best decision she ever made. Patricia and George married in March 1944, had a child early next year, and she blended into Canadian high society effortlessly. The Clark family were close friend of Winston Churchill, among others. As for Jack Jr., he married to Barbara Richman in 1948 and had three children with her. They were still happily married when he died in 1995.

Unfortunately, I could not find any additional information about Patricia’s new in-laws, but it seems she and George led a happy family life with several children, and lived mostly in Canada.

Joy Windsor

Beautiful chorus girl who did some not-too-bad uncredited work – we heard this story before. Yet, Joy Windsor is a more tragic example than most – she was forced to end her career due to illness. However, she reinvented herself as a nightclub singer and then got married and ended her career o raise a family. Let’s learn more about her!

EARLY LIFE

Emily Smith was born on February 4, 1931, in Columbia, Missouri, to William E. Smith and Emily Richards Smith. Her younger brother William E. Jr was born on March 24, 1933.

The family lived on Rolling Acres, a Hereford cattle ranch. Emily learned to ride almost before she learned to walk, ,much like her brother Will (the two remained close their whole lives). After losing everything to the dust bowl, the family moved to California in the late 1930s. Emily attended high school in Los Angeles, and somehow began dancing while in her teens. IMDB lists her first credited in 1931, the year she was born, but that is not correct – there was another Joy Windsor who was born in the late 1900s, who made her debut in 1931. Joy didn’t act as a child, but later, in the early 1950s. Anway, just fresh out of high school, she became a member of the Ken Murray chorus, and got her first newspaper mention when the show Ken mounted in Los Angeles moved East to New York:

Back into town today came the most unloved girls in New York. By the critics. And pop-eyed Union Station, attendants and red caps stared at the long-legged beauties and borrowed Ken Murray’s famous phrase “What’s wrong with that?” The girls were from the cast of “Blackouts,” Murray’s variety show that ran for seven years in Hollywood and flopped after only six weeks, on Broadway, “The critics killed us,” said Pat Williams, 18, one of the attractions of the show. “Audiences were wonderful, just like they were in Hollywood, but the critics panned us. And we closed.” Pat, who is from Tacoma, Wash., was followed off the Santa Fe’s Grand Canyon Limited by the tall, stunning blond twins, Joan and Jean Corbett, also 18. Redheaded Joy Windsor, 19, was a step behind. The three are Burbank lasses and their families were there to meet them. Joan (or Jean, they are exact twins) commented wistfully, “Maybe the critics just don’t like California products.” A train brakeman whistled and murmured, “I’m seeing double but what’s wrong with that?” Murray and his wife stayed behind in New York and will arrive here on the Chief tomorrow.

Joy continued working in Los Angeles, dancing in other shows. Probably in part due to her chorus experience, Joy was signed to a contract with a studio and started her acting career.

CAREER

Joy started her career in Sands of Iwo Jima, a well-made war movie. She then appeared in Women from Headquarters, a movie completely forgotten, but with an interesting plot and with a woman in the lead (played by Virginia Huston, whom I profiled on this blog before). Unfortunately, it’s a B effort that never raised any dust, and such movies with a feisty female lead remained a rarity for years to come (and even today still are).

After a Fun on the Run short, Joy had an uncredited role in His Kind of Woman a pretty good film noir with a fine pairing of Robert Mitchum and Jane Russell. While I always tought of Russell as a not that talented sexpot, she was actually an okay actress who more than did her share in movies such as this. Joy’s next feature, Sunny Side of the Street was an idiotic musical (plot: a singer wants to get famous) with no real reasons to watch it. While it is to some degree happy-go-lucky, it still lags behind much better upbeat musicals. Terry Moore and Audrey Long are perhaps the only lights spots in the production. Joy fared no better in her next movie, The Family Secret – this one is pure low-class soap opera (courtroom style) with not enough quality drama and too much pathetic drama, and no good actors (case in point – John Derek – not that bad-looking but a trunk of wood as far as acting goes). Joy was then in another short, Hula-La-La, before doing two totally typical 1950s movies – Ten Tall Men, a typical adventure with Burt Lancaster as a French Foreign Legion soldier, and The First Time, a Robert Cummings as a first time dad comedy of manners. Both movies are well made, great to look at and amusing to some degree, but on the other hand they offer nothing truly exceptional nor do they soar above the middle of the barrel status. Another similar movie was Sound Off, a Mickey Rooney vehicle – a military musical where he plays a nightclub entertainer who is drafted and so on… It’s nice to watch and not too bad, but nothing to shout about. Rainbow ‘Round My Shoulder  was a sweet and light musical with Frankie Laine.

Due to some medical problems, Joy had to give up her career after this movie (read more in the private life section). She returned to the screen one more time in 1956, with Come on Seven, another short comedy, and then retired for good.      

PRIVATE LIFE

Joy’s first Hollywood beau was David May. The press termed him a boy who ‘who plays around with department stores’, and who ‘thinks Joy Windsor is more fun’. Unfortunately nothing came of the liaison, and May married Ann Rutherford later. Hollywood stalwart Dave Siegel and Joy became pretty good friends not long after she entered the chorus world, and despite not being romantically involved, they were often seen around town, enjoying late suppers and dancing. He would remain her reliable and sturdy “go-to” guy for going out when more interesting beaus were nowhere to be seen.

In the early 1950s, Joy did quite a bit of work for the US military effort. She traveled with a plethora of entertainers to Korea and to the Caribbean, and was often seen in the newspapers.

For a time in 1952, Joy dated Buddy Rudolf, who dated and ditched June Horne right virtually to the altar (he went to Japan for business and didn’t return for two years), but the relationship simply withered after a few short months.

In December 1952, Joy started dating avowed bachelor Paul Ellis. They became seriously quite quickly – in January 1953 Paul Ellis told Joy Windsor at the Sportsmen’s Lodge that he’ll fly to Mexico to see her new night club act. However, they had a nasty bust up in April 1954 and both started dating elsewhere. In May Joy was dating Frank Harper at the Sportsmen’s Lodge, but her heart was still with Paul. In June 1954, one night,  Paul Ellis went to a fancy club with new swain Jane Wurster but she went home and he was joined by Joy Windsor who had watched the first show with Dave Siegel (and then conveniently ditched him). They spend a wonderful summer together, but storm cloud were never far from their love sky. THey had some serious issued by September, and in October had a love spat as a result of a tense and, on Joy’s side, tearful confab at Ciro’s in the midst of a concert. They “broke up”, but the same month, a funny things happened: onlookers observed an unusual situation at Ciro’s when Martha Martin Ellis ringside with Roger Valmy; at the next table sat her ex, Paul Ellis, with Lucille Barkley, and just adjacent Paul’s recent steady date, Joy Windsor, with Stanley Richardson. They couldn’t keep from each other – they were back dating the same month. They broke up in early 1954, and made up in April 1954. However, in May 1954 she was seen with famed attorney Bentley Ryan (partner of the legendary Greg Bautzer). In late May Paul gave Joy Windsor a farewell dinner before she went to Europe for three months. They resumed their romance when she returned in August. All went well for the remained of the year, but another termination came in January 1955. They made up, yet again, in March 1955.  Joy wanted to become a nightclub singer and she wasn’t kidding – that month She had flown to the Philippines for an engagement. Then the papers solemnly announced she was supposed to marry Ellis on April 16, just one months away. Ah, but what can happen in a month!

Everything seemingly went well, but then, two days before the marriage, Joy suffered a nervous collapse. The wedding was postponed. Nobody knew the reason, but the columnists rightly deducted that there was a lot more than came out in the story and wondered if the wedding wall ever take place. Then, to nobody’s surprise,  they canceled it quite acrimoniously. Both tried to act as if nothing happened and they would go on as usual. Paul Ellis dated Dorothy Porter at the Gourmet Beverly, but the truth was quite different from the illusion.

In the meantime, Joy was seen with Marshall Ebson. Then, sometime in May 1955, she caught polio and was hospitalized. Luckily, only her leg was affected, but she had to give up her movie career after this, as she had to wear a brace. In August 1955, she was still wearing a leg brace, but went dancing frequently with Bentley Ryan. In September 1955 she dated Bob Moon, a radio producer. In October 1955, things started to shift in relation to Paul – Joy flew to New York and was planning to stay there for a longer time. Paul, who heard that she was to depart to the East coast, tentatively called her, then took her to the Luau for dinner and then to the airport. Joy’s plans for a long-term New York sojourn were quickly squashed – by November she declared that the local weather was too much for her, she changed her mind about living in the east, flew home and then to the desert. She accidental “ran” into Paul there, and he bought her a dinner at the Palm Springs Ranch dub. And just like that, they were together again. The reunion lasted only a few weeks, alas. In early November Joy and Paul had a battle and everything is off again between them. ON a positive note, by late November, there were news that, if she’s careful, doctors told Joy that she can go out evenings without the brace on her leg. Early in 1956, she took off the braces for the first time and did Ciro’s with Paul (obviously they were “on” again). But Joy was still seen with other beaus – Ruth Roman’s estranged husband, Mortimer Hall, was one of the more serious ones.

1956 seemed like a tranquil year for the couple. By May she was again with Paul, and this time for good it seemed. In October Joy spent three days in the hospital fighting anemia. In early 1957 she was seen around with Paul, often with  company like Joyce and Noel Clarke, Grace Pope and her sister Helen Sanders and so on.

Then, in May 1957, literary out of nowhere, Joy married bandleader Charlie Barnet. Trust me, I was shocked to read this. After such a wonderful year with Paul, marrying a guy who…. She was his (wait for it!) 10th wife!!! Imagine this! Ten wives, and you are not yet 50. He said, somewhat ironically, that “I like the girls to match the upholstery of the car.” “We are ideally happy and deeply in love,” Joy said to the papers. She said she met Barnet two weeks ago and started singing with his band. They decided to elope Wednesday after attending a cocktail party. They flew to Yuma for the wedding ceremony and returned the next day. The couple planed a week-long honeymoon in Hollywood (how romantic… NOT) and after it was over, continued living there. Barnet was born on October 26, 1913, into a wealthy New York family, making him almost 20 years Joy’s senior. Instead of becoming a lawyer like his parents expected him to, he became a jazzer.

The marriage was very stormy and they separated in early June. By mid June, Joy was already dating Leonard Ackerman. On June 28, she hits the newspapers by seeking an annulment for he marriage. “I got an ulcer.” she famously said to the judge. She charged him for never intending to consummate the marriage and that he refused to set up a proper household. What a sad and worrisome affair 😦 She won the annulment on August 9, 1957. Barnet married his last wife, Betty, in 1958 and stayed married for the next 30+ years.  He died on Septeber 4, 1991.

Just a few days later she was back with Paul Ellis. What a roller coaster their relationship was. After all the ups and downs, they married on August 12, 1957 in Carson City, Nevada. They honeymooned in Hawaii with Paul’s ex-wife and daughter (weird!). By October Joy was pregnant, and in November ended up in the Cedars of Lebanon hospital suffering from a flu attack.

Ultimately, Joy and Paul had two children: Richard William Ellis, born on May 9, 1958 and Paula Lee Ellis, born on June 18, 1959. Joy settled into a peaceful family life from then on. Her brother William Smith went on to become a popular actor, and always credited his sister with helping him get a foothold in Tinsel Town.

Joy Windsor Ellis died on November 6, 2006 in Santa Monica, California.

PS: Happy Christmas people!!!

 

Caroline Burke

After profiling more than a hundred obscure actresses, I can say that I am not easily impressed. More often than not I see a pattern – young girls who have a zest for life go to Hollywood and thus break with tradition, but in the end, after a short career, they often return “home” to become wives and mothers. Only a few didn’t follow this path, and those women sometimes impress me – Caroline Burke is one of them. After a short and sketchy Hollywood career, she became a very successful female producer and left her mark on both early TV and Broadway. Boy, was I impressed (I like this word, can’t you see?) with her professional achievements! But, let’s more about her!

EARLY LIFE

Caroline Flora Berg was born on July 7, 1913, in Portland, Oregon, to Charles F. Berg and Saidee Berg. Her older brother James Forrest was born on January 5, 1901 in Portland. Her father was a prosperous merchant and the family was well off, employing at least one servant at any time.

Caroline grew up in Portland, and attended high school there, developing a taste for performing at an early age. After graduating from high school, Caroline majored in art at Bryn Mawr College, and afterwards returned home to Portland. Unhappy with being a society wife, with her father’s backing and generous donations from friends, she started the art history department at Reed Col­lege in Portland. She also studied art in Paris and London during this time, but I could not find the exact years.

Caroline moved to New York at some point. As an actress, she appeared on Broadway in “Brooklyn, U.S.A.,” and Gilbert Miller’s “Heart of a City.” She was also an advertising and radio writer on the West Coast.

Then, in about 1942, she decided she wanted to “go Hollywood”. She was almost 30 – at that time, most women who came to Hollywood were 20 at best, perhaps 20 something. Yet, she was a mature woman, not a starstruck girl – and this made all the difference. See how she managed to govern a wilderness like Tinsel Town:

Some weeks ago, a petite New York miss named Caroline Burke came to Hollywood, Object: Screen career. Experience: Two bits in Broadway shows and some radio appearances. Hollywood producers were not sufficiently interested to give her interviews. Agents ·were too unimpressed to represent her. The girl’s few acquaintances. Instead of encouraging her. stressed the difficulties of crashing studio gates. But pint-size Miss Burke is a person of determination, “Others have done it,” said she, “and so can I.” After mulling her problem for days, she wrote a poem–a humorous lament about the inaccessibility of movie producers. In it. she named ~the men she had unsuccessfully tried, to see. She sent her poem After mulling her problem for days, she wrote a poem a humorous lament about the inaccessibility of movie producers. In it she named the men she had unsuccessfully tried to see. She sent her poem to Variety and the editor printed it. Within two days every man she had named tried to sign her!

And that was the story of how Caroline got into Hollywood!

CAREER

Caroline’s big moment came with The Mysterious Rider, a, you guessed it, low-budget western!! Heck yeah, and she ended up like most actresses that got their big chance sin such movies – nowhere!

The rest of Caroline’s brief acting career just serves to emphasis this sentiment: she was never credited again, appearing only in bits. In 1943 she was in Silent Witness , a solid but a tad bit too predictable Republic studios potboiler with some impressive bur very underrated cast – Frank Alberston, Maris Wrixon, Bradley Page… The story, while a bit formulaic, is not half that bad – a ruthless attorney gets dumped by his kind hearted fiancee and then the tables turn on him… Nice to see a not so sympathetic character in the lead, and he does get better as the movie progresses.

Up next came Spy Train, a completely made-to-order low-budget thriller set on a (you guessed it!) a train. If has all the typical elements for a movie of such caliber – a handsome lead who’s a reporter, a charming love interest, antagonists (this time the Nazis), and a mix up (completely identical bags). It’s obvious from a hundred miles how it’s going to end, and the movie is solidly made but that’s it – nothing more, nothing less. In a world where there are so many good movies to watch, this one just doesn’t take the cake. The cast is decidedly second tier too, with Richard Travis, Catherine Craig and Chick Chandler.

By this time, Caroline was well aware that her acting days are over. She appeared in a small role in one more movie – the best known of the lot, Rhapsody in Blue, considered one of the best musicals of the 1940s. But, instead of kicking back into domesticity and obscurity, Caroline chose another path for herself.

PRIVATE LIFE

On her first movie interview, New York actress Caroline Burke said, “I’m a complete nonentity can’t play gin rummy don’t have any wacky lapel gadgets and I’ve never been out with Vic Mature!” The press called her “unique”.

Caroline was a lover of all things beautiful and had an eye for art.  She had an impressive doll collection, which she had arranged a half-dozen small cloth peasant dolls in authentic costumes along a wide bookshelf. Behind each is Caroline’s oil painting of the doll with wood frame painted in the rich color only.

Here is a short article about hos Caroline entertained during the 1940s, when she was in Hollywood:

Caroline Burke couldn’t quite give up the spirit of the old Fourth, so to friends who dropped into her Brentwood Heights home for a patio lunch the’- tabre’ presented a gala appearance. White hollyhocks, red roses and blue cornflowers formed the centerpiece; there was a pinwheel of red and white-striped peppermint candy; bread sticks were capped with white paper, skyrocket fashion and set in pewter holders flanked by flags, while the cheese pretzels were tied with red ribbon in packets like fire-crackers and the wieners, were squared at onetend’ and giant firecracker fuses of white string were attached…

Another example:

Caroline Burke’s Birthday Honored Alton Brody played host in his Beverly Hills home Tuesday for a cocktail party celebrating the birthday of Caroline Burke, recently arrived from New York. Caroline wore, in honor of the occasion, an afternoon frock of turquoise blue shantung fashioned with slim skirt, slightly bloused bodice with drawstring neckline at which she wore a red gold clip set with diamonds, rubies and aquamarines. Guests stayed on after rock-tails for a buffet supper of chili, macaroni, salad and other dainties, and to watch Caroline slice a cake topped with blue and white candles. Later the guest of honor adjourned to The Players with a group which included the John Brights, John being the author of “Brooklyn. U.S.A.” in which Caroline made her Broadway debut last winter. Among those who attended the Brody party bearing gifts for Miss Burke and old recordings which are to be donated to the salvage drive sponsored by the American Legion were Messrs. and limes. Walter Pidgeon, John Wayne, Allen Rivkin, Ira Gershwin, Harpo Marx, Charles Feldman, Walter Kane (LynnBari,) Norman Krasna, Michael Kanin, Howard Lang, Jules Stein, William Goetz, Ben Goetz, Ben Hecht, Conrad Veidt and Budd Chase.

Caroline was obivously a natural-born hostess and no wonder she had a reputation as a sought after party girl. On a more serious note, Carole did her share for the war effort – in the summer 1943, she gave up the idea to an Alaskan cruise for shore duties at a Harbor canteen for service men.

Caroline was also a witty conversationalist. Columnist Edith Gwynn once  said that Caroline couldn’t find an apartment that would take dogs so she decided to look for a veterinary who will take people :-). Another example: Caroline reported that the following note was received by the police department in Portland: The guy who lives next door to the police station is a crook and ought to be prosecuted to the full extent of the law. I cracked his safe last night and found it full of black market coupons”. She was also friends with author Kathleen Windsor. Caroline was present when Kathleen was asked at a Philadelphia author’s luncheon whether her racy book, “Forever Amber,” is an autobiography, and she replied: “If it had been, I wouldn’t have had time to write it”. Caroline was also quite headstrong: she had the forcefulness to carry out the ideas she conceived. For instance, she wanted a work of Picasso, so she got one from him.

Caroline dated Morton Gould, the composer-conductor, for a time. He visited her when she was in the Doctors’ Hospital with a strep throat that same year, but the relationship fizzled not after.

Caroline Burke married Cyrus Max Adler, a millionaire camera manufacturer, in the late 1940s. Cyrus was born on January 19, 1899, making him 14 years older than Caroline. He was married once before, to Selma Caroline Adler, and they had a daughter, Betty, born on April 17, 1927. As a wealthy socialite,  Caroline became prominent in the art circles in the US. Unfortunately, the marriage did not last and they divorced in the early 1950s. Adler died on June 22, 1959.

After her divorce, Caroline and Norman Krasna became a premier twosome-about-town. Caroline was fresh out from New York (and TV duties) and spent some time in Hollywood with her beau. Unfortunately, the relationship didn’t last.

From 1946 to 1956 she was one of television’s first women producers, producing, writing and directing network television for the National Broadcasting Company, including the awar-d­winning telecast of Pirandello’s “Six Characters in Search of an Author” and the memorable Wanda Landowska [the harp­sichordist] at Home in the Wisdom Series. In 1955 she toured the Far East where she taped interviews with the heads of various governments for N.B.C.

She was also active as a Broadway producer. She wanted to produce a play of Mr. Pinter’s, so she read all his plays and then had him adapt his television play, “The Col­lection,” for the theater. In 1962 she brought Harold Pinter’s “The Dumbwaiter” and the already mentioned “The Collection” to the Cherry Lane Theater, running into 1964 with a total of 578 performances. She was co-producer of the Broadway shows “The Hostages” and “The Tenth Man” and was producer of “The New Pinter Piays”. Except staging Pinters plays, she was associate producer of Paddy Chay­efsky’s The Tenth Man, and co‐producer of Brendan Behan’s The Hostage. To Off Broadway she imported N. F. Simp­son’s London comedy, “One Way Pendulum.”

Caroline married her second husband, Erwin D. Swann, an advertising executive, vice president of Foote, Cone & Belding Ad Agency (Mad Men anyone?) sometime in the 1950s. Swann was born on December 9, 1906 in New York. He was married once before, to noted Broadway actress, Tamara, who perished in the 1943 plane crash in Portugal (songstress Jane Forman was on the same flight and suffered serious injuries). Caroline and her husband lived in Manhattan and had a home in Durham Furnace, Bucks County, Pennsylvania.

Caroline kept busy even outside the theater sphere – was an art editor for Diplomat magazine, an owner of a California radio station, a teacher of television production at Columbia University, a sometime writer and teacher — often simultaneously. She truly did have a very impressive and varied career in the arts.

Caroline and her husband amassed an impressive collection of modern art, consisting of, among others, paintings and draw­ings by Picasso, Gauguin, Klee, Miro, Vuillard and Roualt and sculpture by Rodin, Degas, Braque and Zorach.

Caroline Burke Swann died on December 5, 1964, from a brain tumor in New York. Her widower died in December 1973.

Tut Mace

Tut Mace was a kind of girl that we only sometimes see in Hollywood – girls born to dance, girls who danced become they felt a passion for it, notfor the money and fame. Pretty, talented and a seasoned pro by the time she was 20, Tut was a good match for Tinsel Town, but her career there was brief and not notable, so she took up the dancing circuits and had much success. A stormy marriage and possible alcoholism sadly overshadowed her dancing abilities.

EARLY LIFE

Katharine May Tut Mace was born on January 26, 1913 in Los Angeles, California, to Lloyd Russell Mace and Katherine G. Higgins. She was their only child. Her father was a medical doctor, then a local practitioner – he later became an official physician of the Olympic auditorium (State Athletic Commission to be more precise).

From early childhood, it was obvious that Tut was extremely talented in kinetics, dancing included, so he parents, fully supportive, tried to do everything to help her develop this talent. She was sent to several of the leading dancing schools and she took private lessons with trained of movement with acrobatic ability. She was also a Girl Scout troop leader.

Her first real showbiz experience was appearing in the local annual pastiche of dancers, dancing what was known then as a “different” acrobatic dance. Day by day she honed her skill and blossomed into a highly talented dancer. She made waves before she hit 18 – here is an example article about her early career days:

In the success scored by Lupino Lane’s new Hollywood Music Box revue, which opened to a capacity audience Tuesday night, the star-producer has not overlooked home talent. He points with pride to Tut Mace, the little dancer who registered the opening night. Little Miss Mace, is just 16 years of age, born in Los Angeles, and received all of her dance instruction here. She is the daughter of Dr. Lloyd Mace, official physician of the Olympic auditorium, and local practitioner. Although Miss Mace is so young, she has already been featured in several acts in vaudeville, and has danced in them as far East as Chicago. Her acrobatic talent is described as bringing exclamation of wonder from Music Box audiences.

Tut danced all over the US, including the prestigious Tabor Theater in Denver, where she joined the Fanchon and Marco “Hollywood Collegians” idea. And not long after, she did land in Hollywood. Pretty soon, she became very popular in Hollywood as a dancer, and was developing so rapidly…

CAREER

Sadly, for such a talented dancer, tut appeared in so few movies – only three! Her first two movies were the Three Stooges shorts, Hollywood Lights and The Big Idea. Since I never saw any of the Stooges shorts and known next to nothing about them nor their body of work, let’s just leave it at that.

Sadly, her only full length movie, She Was a Lady, is a completely forgotten one – little is known about it, but a sure plus is that is had Helen Twelvetrees in the lead. The plot is an outright critique of the social class divide, with Helen playing a daughter of an aristocrat and a servant lady. The plot follows her love life and striving to make something out of her mixed heritage. It actually doesn’t sound half as bad, but sadly I have no idea is anybody has watched this movie in ages.

And that was it from Tut!

PRIVATE LIFE

Tut’s private life was quite stormy and being with one very important man – Gary Leon. Leon was born on february 5, 1906, in Illinois. His family moved to Santa Monica, California when he was a boy. He was a dancer who danced with Rita Hayworth. Leon married Marion Mitchell, his dancing partner, in Detroit. The wedding was staged at the theater where they were appearing, a symphony orchestra playing Lohengrin’s Wedding March as the martial knot was tied before a large audience. And then, a year later, Tut comes into the picture. Wonder how? Here is an article about it:

Gary Leon, dancer, and former Santa Monica athlete, divorced his wife, Marion Leon, in Superior Judge Kincaid’s court yesterday because she was overly Jealous of him. “She insisted on being present in all my business dealings,” Leon testified. “She accused me of being in love with my dancing partners. Always she was out front watching me.” Asked by his attorney, Marshall Hickson, about threats of his wife to end her life, Leon replied it was just her “annual gag” to cause him further annoyance. Marcia (Tut) Mace, Leon’s dancing partner, testified that ,. Mrs. Leon’s jealousy caused Leon to be much upset and that it once resulted in their losing an engagement. The Leons were married December 14, 1933, and separated last April 1

This was not the first time Leon got some slack from the papers. He first got some infamy when he was accused by none other than  Rudy Vallee of keeping rendezvous with his then wife, Fay Webb, in New York. Leon claimed he had known Fay since she was “a little girl with pigtails,” but that he said he had not seen her. He refused to take sides in commenting on the Vallee-Webb case, remarking he was just the innocent victim caught in a cross-fire of a domestic quarrel. He didn’t want to take sides, so he gave affidavits to both sides, and was not further concerned in the matter.”

Har har har, while he was trying to paint Marion as a green-eyed monster, Gary truly was cheating on her with Tut – quite a low punch, I have to say. Just a few short weeks after his divorce, Gary and Tut announced they will be married soon at Agua Caliente. Although California law prescribed a year’s wait before either party may remarry, Leon and Tut evaded the ruling by living apart.

In contrast to Leon’s first marriage, his second wedding to Tut was performed at the Foreign club, Tijuana’s largest gambling house. They left for soon on a combination honey moon and professional tour of Europe. Another thing they kept mum was that Tut was pregnant – their daughter Andree Antoinette was born sometimes in 1935, not long after the wedding.

Leon and Tut’s marriage was a tumulus one. They danced all around the US and Europe, mostly in Great Britain. They often had stormy fights just to make up later and everything was lovely dovely. Like most such stories, the ending was not a nice one.

After a difficult marriage, they finally divorced in 1945. Even then it was a major fiasco – the court proceedings got into papers, and they were not nice. It was said Tut listed her monthly expenses at $156.50, and asked a restraining order to prevent her husband molesting her. Soon, Tut found out she was pregnant again, and gave birth to their second daughter, Pamela Mary Leon, on July 5, 1946, during their divorce proceedings. But the divorce went on as usual – it seems there was nothing that could keep the two of them together.

Tut faded from view, gave up dancing and remarried a Santa Monica businessman, Phillip Malouf.

In 1955, Tut and Gary went to the Santa Monica Superior Court to begin a legal battle over the custody of their 11-year-old daughter. The suit was heard by Judge Stanley Mosk. She was seeking custody of her daughter Pamela, who has been living with’ her father and her paternal grandmother since she and Gary were divorced years ago. Leon, then a chief of security at me Kami corp was likewise remarried by that time. Now this is truly sad: Tut’s husband Philip Malouf testified that he recently attempted the role of peacemaker between Leon and his former wife, where upon Leon went into a tirade and said he wished his former wife were dead and that he would have killed her if he thought he could get away with it. Leon had answered his ex- wife’s demand-for custody of the child and charged that she has been an alcoholic for the past seven years. Tutn, in her affidavit, said she has hot had a drink for 18 months. Judge Mosk advised the parties that he will confer with the girl prior to resumption of the hearing this morning. Sadly that was all I could find of the case, and I have no idea what happened in the end with the custody case.

To sum everything up, it seems that Gary and Tut were at odds for a long time even after that, and I can only hope they reached some sort of agreement on the custody of their daughter. One wonders what could have happened to install so much venom into their hearts.

Tut lived a quiet life in Santa Monica with her husband, and danced only for fun. But unfortunately, it seems that she could have been an alcoholic. Because, she just died too young.

Catherine “Tut” Malouf died on July 26, 1966. I have no idea when Philip Malouf died. Gary Leon died on March 30, 1988.

Pluma Noisom

Obscure actresses are usually extras or chorus girls – so far we haven’t’ touched another large portion of the often nameless thespians – the stand ins! Not officially actors, they do all the heavy lifting for the stars, standing as the technicians set the light, cameras and so on before the scene is shot. Pluma Noisom hit her five minutes of fame as the stand in for Claudette Colbert, with whom she shared an uncanny physical similarity. Let’s learn more about her!

EARLY LIFE

Pluma Hope Noisom was born on February 14, 1913 in Detroit, Michigan, to George Frederick Noisom and Helen June Harrison. Her younger brother George Jr. was also born in Detroit on February 14, 1915. The family moved to King, Washington after George returned from serving in WW1 (in about 1919), but returned to Detroit not long after.

Pluma was a talented child who enjoyed dancing and wanted to make it her life’ vocation. Her parents, more than supportive to her wishes, decided to move to Los Angeles to further her chances to having a dancing career. They packed their bags and by 1922 were living in Los Angeles, where her younger brother Derry was born on September 22, 1923.

Pluma’s mother, by then pretty much determined to get her children into show business, changed their names to make them more theatrical. Hans J. Wollstein’s “All Movie Guide” mentions that her brother George Noisom went by the name Bubbles Noisom, and Pluma became Pluma DaVonne. Her brother appeared in the Wizard of Oz and was arguably the most successful of the siblings. Pluma started to attract attention with her dances in several films, and her career was of!

CAREER

Judging by IMDB, Pluma never had a featured role but instead was a stand in for Claudette Colbert. I don’t think this is the whole truth – it seems she was a chorus girl before she became a stand in, and she was a stand-in in more than three movies listed on the profile page. But anyway, Pluma gave up her career as a movie dancing girl to be the stand-in for Claudette, and their first movie was Cleopatra.

Pluma was Claudette’s stand in in The Gilded Lily, actually a pretty nice romantic comedy. The plot is simple enough: While its no high art, I for one like these kind of fun, sharp but still dreamy enough to be part escapism. The cast is uniformly good – Claudette, Fred MacMurray and Ray Milland.

That same year she was stand in for She Married Her Boss, another semi-comedy combined with semi-drama. Much like the Gilded Lilly, it mixes the two genres and it mixes them nicely. Overall, it’s bit uneven in the quality department (low points: the ending is downright terrible, the costumes are terrifyingly bad), but more than watchable. And I love Melvyn Douglas, he’s a tush! 

Accordign to IMDB, Pluma’s last movie was Under Two Flags, an adventure movie. The opinions are divided about this one – while it’s a solid movie overall, some thing it could have been much better – some think it’s great just the way it is. But anyway, it’s indisputable that he movie has an impressive cast (Claudette, Robert Donat, Rosalind Russell) and a good plot, taken from Ounida’s novel.

According to the papers, Pluma doubled for Claudette in some of the long shots of “Imitation of Life,” because Claudette had to start another picture, and when Claudette was ill, Pluma played in some of the faraway scenes of “Maid of Salem.”

And that was it from Pluma!

PRIVATE LIFE

Pluma married her first husband, James P. Whitaker, on July 1,4 1930, in Los Angeles. Whitaker was born on in Missouri in 1910, to Jasper Whitaker and Mary Walsh. They family moved to California in the 1920s, and James worked in Los Angeles in the cleaning business, being a salesman of cleaning fluids. The marriage was very short-lived and the divorced early the next year. Whitaker remarried in the 1930s, was drafted into WW2 in 1942 and I have no idea what happened to him afterwards.

Pluma wasted no time in finding her number two – she got remarried on September 5, 1931, in Los Angeles, to Thomas S. Peterson. Peterson was born on February 6, 1908 in New Mexico, to Charles S. Peterson and Minnie K Tudor, 12 years older than his brother Jack. After living for a time in Indiana, the family settled in California, where Thomas worked as a pharmaceutical salesman. This marriage also did not last long and was terminated before 1935. Peterson was also drafted into WW2 and died on August 25, 1988 in California.

And now, for some of the details of Pluma’s life as Claudette’s stand in. Here is a short article about her:

For seven weeks Pluma Noisom, blond “stand-in” for Claudette Colbert, has donned a heavy wig each morning because a stand-in’s hair must be the same color as the actress for which she substitutes while lights are being arranged and the set is being prepared for the filming of a sequence. But the weather has been warm and the wig uncomfortable. Today Miss Noisom appeared at the studio and returned the wig to the property department. Overnight she had become a raven-haired brunette.

In 1936, Pluma was about to get married again, but didn’t have the free days to do it. When Claudette Colbert contracted influenza and had to take a few days of production, Pluma got the few free days that  she needed. Taking advantage of this opportunity, she eloped to Riverside and married Ward Schweizer, former college athlete. The marriage was disclosed when Pluma appeared for work the next day and forgot to remove her wedding ring.

Pluma’s new intended was Ward Cotrell Schweizer, born on January 22, 1908 in Los Angeles, to John Melchior Schweizer and Hester Willson. He grew up in Los Angeles and graduated from Occidental College, where he was a member of Phi Beta Kappa and Alpha Tau Omega. He served in World War II and achieved the rank of colonel in the U.S. Army. He joined Pacific Telephone in 1930 and moved to San Francisco in 1940. He became an executive vice president and officer in the AT&T Bell System and served on the boards of Pacific Bell and Nevada Bell. After his retirement in 1972, he joined the board of telecom equipment provider Lynch Communications.

I could not find much information about Pluma and Ward’s marriage, but it seems that they had two children, two sons, John Schweizer and Marc Schweizer (born on September 17, 1947). The couple divorced in the early 1950s.

Schweizer remarried in 1958 to Constance McPherson, and they lived in Atherton, California for 45 years until his death in 2003.

Pluma allegedly remarried to a Mr. Proulx but I could not find any information about the union. She continued living in Los Angeles.

Pluma Hope Proulx died on May 22, 1981, in Los Angeles, California.

Martha Merrill

Martha Merrill was one of those girls who get to Hollywood via the dancing route, manage to climb out of the chorus pit, but sadly never amount to much. However, Martha proved her versatility when she became a professional writer after her acting days were over, and was hailed as a fine poetess! Let’s learn more about her!

EARLY LIFE

Martha Baum was born on February 22, 1916, in Fort Wayne, Indiana, to James and Pearl Baum. She was the sixth and last child – her siblings were Josephine, born in 1894, twins Mannie and James Jr., born in 1899, Samuel, born in 1904 and Pearl, born in 1909. Both of her parents were Russian immigrants and her father worked as a furniture buyer at a department store. The family was well off as they employed a servant and a nurse for the children.

The Baums moved to Chicago, Illinois by 1925, where Martha grew up. She was interested in dancing from her early teen years and seriously considered it as her future vocation.

Martha attended University High school and after graduation attended College Preparatory school of Chicago and then started to dance professionally. At some point she landed in Hollywood, but was not signed by a studio, rather she danced in the chorus as a freelancer.

Dick Powell proved to be Martha’s claim to fame. While filming Dames, a cameraman needed a girl to pose with Dick for a picture. Martha volunteered, among others. Dick picked her to assist in making a “trailer”.  Although the photograph was never used it found its way to the desk of an executive at Warner Bros studio.  He ordered a screen test for her and she so favorably impressed studio officials by her work, that she was signed under contract, and of the went!

CAREER:

Martha appeared in a string of musicals as a chorus girl – George White’s ScandalsHere Comes the Navy andDames 

Martha than appeared in a more serious movie fare – The St. Louis Kid, and The Firebird, a sly, well made but still out of the mill crime whodunit (Ricardo Cortez is the victim – he was often the victim in the 1930s!). She then appeared in another Cagney film, Devil Dogs of the Air. This one is a so-so effort, pretty weak in several important elements (story – a cocky pilot learns manners – so cliché!, characters – no real depth, Cagney is great because he plays his usual character), but with solid performers and some nice looking aerial scenes.

Martha finally got her first credit in Living on Velvet, a type of melodrama that doesn’t have a lot of plot but does have a lot of emotion. The whole movie thus rests on the shoulders of the leading actors – George Brent and Kay Francis. I like Kay, she was effortlessly charming, and find Brent a cool tall glass of water! While he could be a wooden statue at times, at other times he was like butter, so creamy and nice! Here, the two make it work, so it’s a good enough movie, worth watching once. Martha was back in the musical saddle with Gold Diggers of 1935Shipmates ForeverIn Caliente and Go Into Your Dance. They are more or less all the same, just with different actors and slightly different stories. A better musical was Show Boat, with the indomitable Irene Dunne as Magnolia.

Luckily, Martha did appear in some more substantial movies like ‘G’ Men, another early Cagney vehicle where he plays a FBI agent at the time when agents didn’t even have authority to carry firearms, Don’t Bet on Blondes, a shallow romantic comedy with Gene Raymond and Claire Dodd, the delightful and puffy Personal Maid’s Secret, a very well done B movie with Ruth Donnelly and Margaret Lindsay set in Park avenue (very interesting to see how Park Avenue people lived in the 1930s – a great time piece!), and Nobody’s Fool, a solid Edward Everett Horton comedy about a country bumpkin who comes to the big city.

The rest of Martha’s filmography was covered by mediocre comedies: They Met in a Taxi, a Chester Morris brain-dead comedy (but still a fun one), Cain and Mabel, a lukewarm pairing of two acting greats, Marion Davies and Clark Gable (they could do better for sure), The Cowboy Star, which luckily is not a western just has a cowboy in the name, and More Than a Secretary, a Jean Arthur movie that’s far from her best work.

Martha’s last movie was perhaps the best one she appeared in, and most certainly my own favorite – History Is Made at Night. This incredible, dream like movie won’t leave you indifferent – and how could it when it pairs Jean Arthur with Charles Boyer, along with a special favorite of mine, Colin Clive (what a shame that he did too little movies!).

That was it from Martha!

PRIVATE LIFE

Martha was famous for her shapely gams. She was selected by none other than Busby Berkeley, dance director, as the possessor of Hollywood’s most beautiful legs. Martha’s thigh measured eighteen and one half inches, calf thirteen and a half and ankle seven inches.

Martha was a writer from her early teens, and even when she was an actress, she looked for any writing outlets she could find. During the 1930s, a Beverly Hills magazine published her poem, Heart Flutter.

She was also chosen as the perfect showgirl in her prime. Here is an article about it:

She’s Martha Merrill back home in Ft. Wayne, Ind. as the “ideal type” out of 200 dancers. Miss Merill is five feet five, weighs 115 pounds, has a waist measurement of 26 inches, an eight-inch ankle and “midnight blue” hair. , Prinz, a director, said the American movie public decided on the changed style in beauty and helped him select Miss Merrill. “Ideas of what constitutes a beautiful girl change just as do standards in clothing,” he explained. “Apparently what the vast bulk of people want those who are interested in a girl’s looks, that is a taller type. Maybe it’s because the race is getting bigger. “From a technical standpoint, at any rate, it is rare that we find real beauty without stature. A girl who stands around five feet or five-two may be pretty, but it’s physically impossible for her to have much dignity or queenliness. “

Here is another article about our busy bee Martha:

Martha Merrill is a young ingenue. Her name may ‘ mean nothing to you, although she has screen credit I mention her because of all the youngsters I have met, she seems more ambitious and willing to work than most. Recently a young man fell in love with her. He dogged her steps, pleading for social dates, but her nights were so filled with studies that she refused. His persistence in the end paid off, but after such a long time…

I have no idea who that young man could be, but as far as her love life was concerned, Martha was married briefly to a Los Angeles physician, a Dr. Parrish. However,I could not find any marriage certificate, I just know that they were divorced prior to 1940.

In 1936, Martha was serious for a time with Ross Alexander, a fellow Warner Bros contractee. As Ross was a highly unhappy individual, it was actually a blessing in disguise when they broke up later that year (Ross killed himself in 1937). Around that time Martha was also seen with Lyle Talbott.

Unfortunately, Martha suffered from an unknown physical malady, and by the late 1930s had to put short her acting career. Trying to find another occupation for herself, producer Edgar Selwyn persuade her to try short story writing and submitted her first effort to a national magazine,which led to a five-year contract at Paramount-studio’s as a scenarist. Unfortunately, I could not find under which name she wrote as she has no writing credits under her acting name.

After this switch of careers, Martha lived part of the year in New York, and there met and fell in love with noted theater critic George Jean Nathan. They dated for a time, and she spent even more time in New York so their relationship could blossom, but they broke up int he early 1940s.

On June 9, 1944, Martha married her second husband, Emanuel Manheim. Manheim was born on November 13, 1897, in New York, to Levi and Rachael Manheim. He was quite a bit older than Martha, but was never wed before.

Funny, but Mannie’s obituary has the best biography written about him i could find:

 Emanuel (Mannic) Manheim, a New York-born humorist who wrote three decades of radio and TV comedy for the likes of Groucho Marx, Frank Sinatra and Art Link-letter, and once presided as the “mayor” of Schwab’s during the drugstore’s Hollywood heyday, has died. Manheim was 90 when he died at Santa Monica Hospital on June 26, according to family and friends. In the mid-1930s, Manheim came to Hollywood from Syracuse, N.Y., for a brief vacation, but at the behest of a friend, composer Harold Arlen, he stayed and stayed, for more than 50 years, writing first for the most popular radio shows of the time and then for television as recently as the 1970s. “A very clever, very witty, very nice man,” recalled writer and playwright Arthur Marx, Grouch-o’s son and a fledgling writer when Manheim got him his first writing job, on Milton Berle’s radio show. In Hollywood, Arlen introduced him to Marx, who gave him his first assignment: writing a Groucho -Chico sequence for radio, according to Manheim’s wife, Martha. Man-heim’s most memorable one, an absent-minded bit known variously as “Hello Olive” and “The Thorndykes,” is a skit Groucho used repeatedly for years. Groucho was performing with Bob Hope and ad-libbing his way through a Manheim script when he was spotted by a TV producer who cleared the way for “You Bet Your Life,” and Groucho wryly credited Manheim with helping to launch his TV career, said Arthur Marx. Among his other radio credits were shows for Edgar Bergen, Frank Sinatra, Rudy Vallee, Jackie Gleason and, for several years, Al Jolson. He also wrote material for Bob Hope and Bing Crosby, and served as head writer for Milton Berle’s radio program. Manheim’s daily calendar was consulted by everyone on that show, his wife said, and one day Berle caught sight of the notation “Book Mencken,” Manheim’s reminder to himself to pick up the latest copy of pundit H.L. Mencken’s work. “What the hell right have you got,” Berle supposedly snarled, “to book Mencken without my consent?” Manheim wrote for television from its infancy. He wrote and produced “The George Jessel Show,” and wrote for “People Are Funny” as well as occasional scripts for “The Real McCoys,” “The Donna Reed Show” and, at the end of his career, for such shows as “My Three Sons.” But “he was at his best,” said his wife, “in those big musical comedy shows you don’t see any more.” At Manheim’s request, there were no services. He is survived by his wife and his brother, Het.

Martha and Mannie lived in California and enjoyed a very happy union. They did not have any children, but it seems that this did not put a strain on the marriage. In 1958, Martha started studying philosophy at Santa Monica College, and was a straight A student each semester.

Manheim died on June 28, 1988 in Los Angeles. Martha lived a quiet life in their home and didn’t remarry.

Martha Baum Manheim died on April 2, 1991, in Los Angeles, California.