Mildred Rehn

Mildred Rehn was a cute chorus girl who danced in Busby Berkeley musicals before getting married, taking a hiatus, then trying, briefly, for a second career some ten years later. She fared only a bit better, did some writing and ultimately retired form the screen.

EARLY LIFE

Mildred Anna Elsie Rehn was born on July 24, 1913, in Vancouver, Canada to Mr,. and Mrs. Rehn, nee Auerbach, both Austrian immigrants. Little is known about her childhood, except that she immigrated to Washington with her parents in the 1920s. Ultimately the family settled in Michigan, where Mildred attended school. After graduation, she started dancing professionally as a chorus girl. 

At only 20, Mildred dancing her way around the world and had already visited London, Paris, Berlin, Vienna, Budapest and Italy and different cities the US. After dancing engagements, she was studying dramatics and art and developed a desire to become a tragedienne. “I’m still studying and hoping for a chance to prove my ability,” she would later say to the papers.

She wanted to see the Hollywood and managed to secure a job as one of Busby Berkeley’s dancing girls In “Gold Diggers of 1938” at Warner Brothers so she could stay awhile and this is how her career started!

CAREER

Mildred Rehn, under her birth name, made only one movie – Broadway Melody of 1938, a typical Busby Berkeley musical extravaganza, with a whole lot of pretty girls, a major lack of decent clothing, with a transparent story and even some horse racing elements. Allegedly Mildred appeared in a string of Berkeley production, but she is not listed as such on the IMDB, so anything goes.

Mildred had a second career as Helga Storme – her credits were the Gus and Dick comedy duo short, Hot Water, and the Ingrid Bergman/Charles Boyer Arch of Triumph, a movie Illegal refugees lead dark lives in pre-World War II Paris. It’s a dark, moody, heavy movie, with brilliant chiaroscuro cinematography and incredible closeups of the always luminous Bergman, but certainly not for everyone and it’s not an easy movie to follow. There is a deliberate lack of a clear narrative outline, and everything just flows, literary like darkness, around the screen. Interesting movie, and a one worth seeing for sure!

David Ragan’s book Who’s who in Hollywood claims that Mildred, as Helga Storme, wrote at least one film – the french movie Francesca. I could not find any more credits nor could I find the movie in question, but it is possible that Millie took the writing mantle and achieved a minor success in it.

And that’s it from Mildred!

PRIVATE LIFE

Due to her parents being Austrian, Mildred was often called a Viennese actress, although I could not quite confirm that they were indeed from Vienna and not some other Austrian city. It seems that she never lived in the city and only visited in a few times, so calling her a Viennese actress is a bit of a stretch – she is a Canadian actress first and foremost.

While in Hollywood, the camera was good to Mildred and she was called to the front office and offered a contract to be groomed for better things. She flatly turned down the chance which would have been snapped up by thousands of girls. She asserted her travels have only started and that as soon as she pays a visit home she will head for Cairo. Then she’s going to write a book on her experiences. Unfortunately, the book was never published, but let’s hope that Mildred traveled around and saw many, many nice things!

Millie’s one big claim to fame was not the movie, but rather being a top chorus girl. Namely, she was announced by Dave Gould, film dance director, as meeting his standard for the ideal chorus girl of 1937. She was a blonde and 5 feet 6 inches tall. Gould said to the papers that the trend toward period costumes for chorus girls instead of nudeness requires taller girls with more poise and elegance. She was in almost any paper in country you can imagine, and gained a small momentum of fame.

Within two weeks after Mildred was picked as the “perfect chorus girl”, she received more than fifteen marriage proposals! I always have to chuckle at this – how much of a crush do you have to have on somebody to ask him to marry you based solely on a photo? Funny!

Here is a another article about Mildred from that period:

Mildred Rehn is a wise woman who as a model, cosmetician, showgirl, dancer and actress has been pretty much all over the world, has had a lot of rich experiences and wants some day to write about them. “Life is not so hard,” she says. “Of course I am tired when I leave the studio, but I am too tired and nervous to sleep. So it is just as well that I go to dinner with some Hollywood man who will sit and talk about what a great man he is and how he is going to make a million dollars. This talk bores me so much that I get very sleepy, so I go home then and sleep fine.’

As for her love life, Mildred was quite low key and lucky in this regard. She started dating Stanley Cortez, film studio cameraman and brother of actor Ricardo Cortez. After some months of dating, they were married secretly in Tijuana, Mexico.

For their second marriage ceremony, the happy couple went to Las Vegas for two days, 18 months after getting married in Tijuana. Here is Cortez’s IMDB profile, which more or less says a great deal about his life and career:

Stanley Cortez was born Samuel Krantz in New York City, New York, the son of Sarah (Lefkowitz) and Moses/Morris Krantz, Austrian Jewish immigrants. His famous actor brother, born Jacob Krantz, changed his name to Ricardo Cortez in order to acquire a more suitably romantic Hollywood image. Stanley changed his name accordingly. After studies at New York University he embarked on a photographic career, first as assistant to noted portrait photographers Streichan and Bachrach (he designed many of their lavish background sets), then as camera assistant for Pathé Revue and for various Manhattan-based film companies. Grabbing the chance to join Gloria SwansonProductions, Stanley then spent a lengthy apprenticeship in the 1920s and early 1930s learning the intricacies of his craft from such established Hollywood cinematographers as Lee Garmes and Hal Mohr. After moving from studio to studio, either as a camera assistant or shooting screen tests, he was signed to a seven-year contract by Universal in 1936, albeit consigned to its “B” unit. His first film as full director of photography was Four Days Wonder (1936). During World War II, he was assigned to the Army Pictorial Service of the Signals Corps.

Much of his subsequent career was spent on fairly routine and undistinguished second features and it was not until he started working for charismatic filmmakers like Orson Welles and David O. Selznick that he was able to fully develop some of his experimental techniques. One of his low-budget outings, a gothic old-dark-house horror/comedy entitled The Black Cat (1941), rather impressed the genial Mr. Welles who promptly hired him for The Magnificent Ambersons (1942). This was the first of two Cortez films generally regarded as visual masterpieces, with beautiful lighting effects, clever angles and lingering close-ups. Of particular note are the staircase scene and the famous long shot — via hand-held camera — of the abandoned mansion. Despite critical plaudits, “Ambersons” was a financial disaster for RKO (it cost $1,1 million and lost $624,000 at the box office) and Cortez was partly blamed for costly delays and extravagant scenes, some 40-50 minutes of which were cut by direct orders from studio boss George Schaefer without consulting either Welles or Cortez. The latter ended up being indirectly censured by receiving lesser assignments. What remained of “Ambersons” has become more appreciated as a sublime visual experience with the passing of time.

The second outstanding Cortez contribution was the chillingly dark, haunting thriller The Night of the Hunter (1955)–a brilliant allegory of good versus evil masterminded by Charles Laughton in his sole directorial effort. Cortez’s lighting and use of irises are reminiscent of German expressionist cinema, or, at least, the work of Karl Struss and Charles Rosher on Sunrise (1927). Among many indelible images are the flowing hair of drowned Shelley Winters in the underwater current and the lights flickering across the water in what is an almost surreal nightly landscape.

A third Cortez effort deserving of mention is the superior psychological drama The Three Faces of Eve (1957), his differential lighting for the face of schizophrenic Eve White (Joanne Woodward) effectively contrasting the multiple personalities within her psyche. Sadly, by the end of the decade Cortez’s career went into a decline. It continued that way through the 1960s, the quality of his assignments fluctuating wildly between the occasional “A” picture (The Bridge at Remagen (1969)) and Z-grade turkeys like The Ghost in the Invisible Bikini (1966) and The Navy vs. the Night Monsters (1966).

Mildred gave up her career for a time so she was follow her husband on location and be the support he needed. Here are some snippets about the Cortez’s marriage and life:

Stanley Cortez, a director of photography in Hollywood, said in an interview here Tuesday night that the Canadian climate may have something to do with the success of Canadian screen stars. After sniffing the cold, clear air on leaving his train Mr. Cortez said the atmosphere In Canada ac counted for the fact that such stars as Norma Shearer, Deanna Durbin and Mary Pickford “seem to have so much more pep” than others in Hollywood. The director Is accompanied by, his wife, the former Mildred Rehn of Vancouver.

And the second one, very interesting, about the relationship between cinematographer and actress:

Maybe one reason TV hasn’t spawned any great female stars is because there is no great rapport between a woman and her cameraman. Stanley Cortez, a governor of the prestigious American Society of Cinematographers, says that, in movies, there always was a relationship between the great women stars and their cameramen. Such a relationship does not exist in TV. “That’s probably because TV companies are always trying to complete their shows as quickly as possible,” Cortez says. And, of course, in movies with the big screen, you have to pay close attention to close-ups and to the glamour of the leading lady.” Cortez says that the rapport between movie queens and their cameramen was so close that several pairs even got married. He cites these examples: Jean Harlow married Hal Rosson; Joan Blondell married George Barnes; both Linda Darnell and Lina Basquette married Peverell Marley at one time or another; Merle Oberon married Lucien Ballard; and Cortez himself a Viennese actress, Helga Storme. “The relationship between cinematographer and leading lady,” Cortez says, “is much like that of doctor and patient. She has to rely on him far so many things her whole career may be in the hands of the cameraman. “And a responsible cameraman feels that responsibility very strongly he must make he look best so she comes across on the screen.”

Stanley and Mildred had no children, but enjoyed a happy and fulfilling marriage, a kind of rarity in Tinsel Town. They lived in Hollywood, where Stanley worked until his retirement in the 1980s.

Mildred Cortez died on May 18, 1989, in Hollywood, California.

Stanley Cortez didn’t remarry and died on December 23, 1997.

Totty Ames

Totty Ames is a incredible, inspiring woman. She lasted more than 20 years as a model, acted sporadically and without much success, but her claim to fame was the choice to become a songstress when she was in her 60s, and succeeding brilliantly! She reinvented herself several times, and always marched on. Let’s learn more about Totty!

EARLY LIFE

Winifred Estelle Totty was born on November 3, 1922, in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, to Flavel Arthur Totty and Annie Belle Carothers, both native Oklahomans. Her father was a fireman, her mother worked as an elevator operator. In 1930, the family were boarders in a Oklahoma City flat with another family, the the Tillerys.

Estelle’s parents divorced in the 1930s, and her mother remarried to Alec Cope, who worked for a power company. Alec, Annie and Estelle lived in Oklahoma City in 1940, and Estelle worked as a cinema cashier to make some pocket change.

Estelle knew that she was destined for a showbiz career and so, after graduating high school she continued working as a cashier for a time, then in 1943 she hopped onto a bus bound for Hollywood. To get some financial footing, she started to work as a cashier at the Egyptian Theater on Hollywood boulevard. In her later years she started that she loved watching the world go by there, on the Boulevard.

Estelle tried to modeling and acting assignments, and pretty soon leading photographers hired her to model clothing, swim wear and lingerie, and pretty soon she signed with the Gene Nelson modeling studios in Hollywood. She became a sought after pin-up and was named, among other titles, Miss Night Fighter of 1943.

This is how she broke into movies quite late, in 1963.

CAREER

Totty was a late bloomer as far as movie roles were concerned – her first role was in 1963, in Wall of Noise, a mediocre drama movie with a solid if uninspired story: Joel Tarrant (Troy Donahue) an ambitious horse trainer working at the Hollywood Race Track. He works for the coarse Matt Rubio (Ralph Meeker) and his wife Laura (Suzanne Pleshette) expresses a special interest in the social life of Joel. Donahue was a pretty boy who never showed any real acting chops, but was adequate in most role she played – on the other hand, both Ralph Meeker and Suzanne Pleshette were very good thespians and many a movie is worth watching just to see them (Meeker especially, I definitely have a soft spot for him!). Another plus is seeing Ty Hardin and Dorothy Provine in supporting roles, and enjoying the very good cinematography by ace cinematographer Lucien Ballard. it’s not an innovative, top of the crop movie, but an okay effort form the early 1960s.

Totty’s minor claim to fame today are her appearances in two Flint movies – Our Man Flint and In Like Flint. Flint is a more energetic and less suave version of James Bond, and as a character tailor made for star James Coburn’s talents. I love Coburn, and, while he was not a handsome man nor a particularly good actor, he was extra charismatic and absolutely unique as far as actor go, so any movie he made is worth watching to see him alone (much like Meeker).

Both Flint movies are in their core spy parody films and they are good as such. The plots are ridiculous, but who’s watching it for the story – there’s Coburn, mod 60s set and clothes design, groovy music, that overall Steve-McQueen-cool atmosphere and a heap or very pretty (and scantly clad) girls.

Totty’ last movie was Skullduggery. Barnaby Rudge, a reviewer on IMDB, perfectly summed up the movie like this: Skullduggery is a strange, strange film based on the novel “Ye Shall Know Them” by Vercors. To unleash criticism at the film feels really unkind, since it is a movie that deals with earnest themes like humanity, and pleas for upright moral standards and tolerance. But in spite of its honorable intentions and its well-meaning tone, Skullduggery simply isn’t a very good film. For me, the main problem is the terribly disjointed narrative which can’t make its mind up how best to convey its message. The first half of the movie is like watching a standard jungle expedition flick of the Tarzan ilk; later it teeters into sci-fi fable; by the end it slips into courtroom melodramatics. The differences in tone between each section of the movie are too great, too jarring, to overlook. They stick out like a sore thumb and remind you constantly that you’re watching a muddled, disorganized movie.

A nice try, but not a successful one unfortunately.

That was it from Totty!

PRIVATE LIFE

Before she ended up in Hollywood, Estelle had a short marriage to a fellow Oklahoman, Harold F. Douglas. The two wed on June 29, 1940, in Canadian, Oklahoma, – she was only 17 and he was barely 21 years old. Douglas was born in 1919 in Oklahoma.

While some of these youthful marriages do work, this one did not and they divorced in about 1942. Douglas remarried to Mary Elizabeth Hinze, went to serve us the Us army in Korea and sadly died there in 1951.

Judging by some later articles, there seems to have been more marriages on Totty’s plate, but I could find only one – to Leonard Herman Barnet. They wed on November 21, 1951, in Los Angeles, California. Leonard was born in 1928 to Harry Barnet and Sarah Turppin, and worked as a suede cutter when he wed Totty. However, the marriage was anything but harmonious, as this article can attest:

Winifred Barnet, 31- year old fashion model, received a decree of divorce yesterday after testifying that six weeks after their marriage her husband degraded her from his beloved to his house’ keeper. Superior Judge Kenneth C. Newell granted her the decree from Leonard Barnet, 26, a suede cutter, to whom she was married here Nov. 21, 1952. “For the first six weeks I was very happy, with him,” said Mrs. Barnet, known professionally as Totty Ames. “Then one day he brought another woman to our home and the two of them announced they were in love.” “Did he say he was leaving you?” asked her attorney, Bentley M. Harris. “Oh, no,” she replied. “He wanted me to continue keeping love affair on the side.” Mrs. Barnet said she nevertheless tried to keep her marriage together but that she and the other woman

Totty worked tirelessly as a model and actress for decades to come, but her true renaissance happened when she was in her 60s.  Namely, at age 65, Totty made her professional singing career performing in leading Los Angeles cabarets. Her career included Executive Assistant to Neil Diamond and co-owner of a designer showroom.  Here is an article from her time as a songstress:

Many wannabe singers can work the microphone, the way the pros did it. But for a lot of reasons the dream got lost in the hustle of trying to make it. Make it she did, as an actress and a model, wending her way through marriages that didn’t work and stepchild-raising she could have done without. She likes to say she got into film the old-fashioned way, by sleeping with the producer, then adds wryly, “I was married to him.” On stage, she’s equally peppery, advising an audience she’s going to sing a mix of old tunes because “I’m 70 years old and I can damned well sing what I want.” After one career ended, someone said to Totty she ought to be doing what she’s always wanted to do, singing on stage, and she said why not? “If not now, I asked myself, when?” She began studying at age 64 and a year and a half later hit the stage at Gardenia. “Isn’t it wonderful,” she says now, “being 70 and doing exactly what I want to be doing?” I was thinking as she walked us through the sleepy gardens of “Deep Purple” how great it would be if we could all find that way around time and reach down to where energy once burned like magnesium and become a Totty Ames. I left the club still hearing music and drove home wrapped in the mist of a memory, thinking about time and a distant rain. “She’s 70?” Cinelll said, stunned by the willowy presence that held the spotlight like she was born in it. “We should all look so good.” Totty could have been In her early 40s, but looks weren’t the only thing. It was the way she sang with strength and youth that Impressed, as though she’d discovered a way around time and had returned from a secret place to baffle the aging. I know 70-ycar-olds who can’t make it across a driveway without a walker and whose voices quaver with the Infirmities of age; those who allow themselves to fall through time to eternity without so much as a struggle, like leaves carried away by an autumn wind. And thon there’s Totty behind a mike looking good and doing “ieep Purple” over a room with candle-lit tables until there isn’t another sound, only the hush of people remembering. What makes it remarkable Is this Is a whole new career for her, one that began In this same club just four years ago. She came to U A. from Oklahoma when she was 21 for the same reason most kids come here, to be a part of the magic. She had $10 and a dream. Totty loved music from the beginning, a little girl grabbing a broom and pretending it was a There’s gotta be 10,000 clubs In LA. that offer entertainment. Sometimes it’s just a guy at a piano looking distracted as he churns out tunes faintly similar to Muzak, other times It’s a vocalist or someone on an alto sax or a small band or magicians or comics or something. Maybe 10,000’s an exaggeration but it seems that way. I get calls from corners of the county where you’d never expect a club to be, saying come and hear the next Blllie Holiday or Billy Crystal or see a nude dancer named Tiffany who’ll knock your aocks off. I don’t go most of the time because I’m not a nightclub writer and haven’t got time to be everywhere, and nudity on stage has yet to knock my socks off. But a credible friend who used to write a column for the Houston Post said I Just had to hear Totty Ames. His name Is David Wcsthelmcr. You know him as the guy who wrote “Von Ryan’s Express” and “Sweet Charlie” and a lot of other good things. He hangs out at a restaurant in Venice called Casablanca along with Dan Seymour, one of the last remaining actors from the movie. Recently, every time I’ve seen David he’s mentioned Totty Ames. The guy’s persistent. We’d be talking about his new book, a memoir of his years in a PCW camp culled “Silting it Out,” unci he’d slip Totty’s name into the conversation. “Wht’s with this Totty?” I finally asked him one night. He said, “She’s a 70 year-old singer who didn’t start singing until she was OB and she’ll knock your socks off.” So the other evening I took Cinelll to a club on the Westside with the unlikely name of Gardenia. It was the day of the big rain In I ..A. and street lights reflected In the wet pavement, casting the night In an amber glow, recalling rainy nights long ago. Magic Is afoot on those kinds of nights when u storm has swept through and stars cmorgc like diamonds on black velvet. Music can carry you back to times and places you haven’t been in a lifetime of forgetting. Totty is like no septuagenarian you’ve ever seen. Up there In a gold lame’ pantsuit, she shines with an aura that defies age.”

Totty never really retired, always active and vital until the last moment.

Totty Ames died on July 10, 2015 in Glendale, California.

Laurie Shevlin

Laurie Shevlin was an alluring Scottish lass who ended up in Hollywood as a chorus girl and made only one movie. She tried for movies a second time, but that was another kaput, and her road from there was rocky, but ultimately she managed to carve out a happy life for herself. Let’s learn more about her!

EARLY LIFE

Catherine Laurie Shevlin was born on March 15, 1914, in Annathill, Scotland, UK, to Frank and Annie Shevlin, the youngest of six children (Laurie had three brothers, one of them named William, and two sisters, one of them named Anna). Her father, an Irish immigrant, was a manual laborer, and allegedly once ran for Parliament on the Labor platform, although I find this very hard to believe. She spent her childhood in Glasgow, Scotland, but her parents decided to move to the land of opportunity, to the US.

Laurie arrived to the US in 1928 with her family. She was barely out of elementary school, but times were hard and all of the family had to go to work. There could be no more school for Laurie. She worked as a waitress and made more than her brothers. She was serving food in the public dining room of the Presbyterian Hospital, New York, when she won a beauty contest at a local theater. She was then 15. The contest caused her to be given a job in Earl Carroll’s “Murder at the Vanities” as the murdered girl. Wanting to improve her skills, she also started to attend Paramount School of Dramatic Art in New York.

Laurie stayed with the Carroll show two years, going to Hollywood to take part in the screen production, in the chorus. And that is how it started!

CAREER

Laurie appeared in only one movie – It’s a fast-moving, fast-talking, sexy movie all the way, the kind you couldn’t make after the Production code was enforced in 1934. The movie’s main highlight are giggly showgirls and a incredible blend of classical and hot jazz. The story is nothing to sneer at: a Murder investigation goes on back stage while The Vanities, on its opening night, plays on to an unknowing audience, but the movie mix and matched crime and musical so it’s an exciting novelty even today, 80 years after it was made. You can also see the infamous “Sweet Marijuana” number in this movie. Gertrude Michael, a underrated actress at any rate, has a meaty role as a bitchy actress and excels in it, making the leading duo of Kitty Carlisle and Carl Brisson somehow boring in comparison. Laurie of course played a chorus girl, just one in the pool of beauties.

And that was it from Laurie!

PRIVATE LIFE

Laurie was 5 feet 5 inches tall, and weighted about 120 lbs when she came to Hollywood.

Here is a beauty hint from Laurie:

To stimulate the growth of the eyelashes, a little castor oil rubbed on each evening before retiring is effective. Doing it regularly will result in thick, long lashes.

Sadly, Laurie’s stay in Hollywood was not a very happy one. Since she had arrived in Tinsel Town, she has had a narrow escape from pneumonia, has had dental trouble which necessitated a lanced jaw, and has fallen down stairs. On a side note, Laurie wasnt’ interested in getting married back then, like some of her fellow chorus girls. They said this to the papers:

Hollywood blonde; Marion Callahan, yellow head from New York; Dorothy Dawes, brunette from the same Big Town, and Laurie Shevlin, of Scotland, with snapping dark eyes, babble that they have always looked forward to careers, that they don’t know what all the fuss is about marriage, that they “prefer to be alive!”

Well said girls! When you are 20 years old, still learning and trying to find yourself, maybe it’s better to wait for the right time ot get married, despite all the societal pressure.

After she appeared in his one and only movie, Laurie was not recognized then as star material and came back to New York for an engagement with a Carroll troupe at a night club. Then she went into George White’s “Scandals” show. She decided she wanted to be a dramatic actress. She wrote and asked Oscar Berlin, chief talent scout for Paramount, and Cecil Clovelly, the director of the Paramount school, to let her enter. They granted her an interview, but turned her down at first, because of her accent. So she worked on it at home, on buses, in subways, at cocktail parties, making everyone correct her when she sounded like something fresh off the moors. Finally, her persistence and her charm overcame them. They let her in, but it took a great deal of work, every day, hour upon hour, delivering lines, learning to walk, learning to hold up her face so the strong lights of the studio would not make shadows. Before it came time to make her test, they put her through a course in how to dress herself, how to emphasize her good points. They tried to sell her as an rising star on this story – to make her a kind of a Scottish Cinderella whose voice had to be modulated before she could enter movies.

Here is a short article about Laurie’s elocution abilities:

, Tilt Gives Laurie Shevlin the Unique Charm Hero Captured by the Cameras In the Course of Her Test for a Film Contract. Compare This Photo of Her with That (Below) . . . By Dorothy Ducas S HE looked small and helpless sitting under the fierce glare of the studio lights. But when she spoke .her voice was as vibrant with youth and life as the mist-blue eyes under her curling, naturally long, black lashes. “You don’t believe thot? Well you con. It’s trrrue!” Delicately, but as arrestingly as a glimpse of purple heather, an accent lay upon her words. It was no simulated accent, it was real. A Scotch lassie! That was why she wore the tartan like one to the heather born. She continued: “I was born of a Russian mother and a Scotch fatherrrr — on a Dutch ship — on the high seas.” She flashed an impish grin. Laurie Shevlin was taking her ACID TEST It Takes Extraordinary Poiso for a Screen Hopeful to’ Bear Up Under the Severe Conditions Surrounding Movie “Tests.” Above Is One of the Few Photos Ever Made During the “Test” of a Future Possible Star, Taken as Laurie Shevlin Was Facing the Cameras for the Picture Which Won Her Her Chance at Stardom, and Made Happy Her Mother (Below), Who Naturally Thinks Laurie Looks Her Best In the Scotch Kilt Costume She Is Wearing at Right.  Another View of the Making of the “Test” Film Which Marked Laurie Shevlin’s Graduation from the Paramount School In New York, Where She Studied for More Than a Year to Win Her Chance at Capturing Film Fame. . . . Showing Laurie Shevlin at the Time She Arrived In This Country with Her Family, an Immigrant Girl from Her Native Scotland. screen, test after months . of. .studying to rid her tremulous voice of the burr of her native land, by playing a scene from Elizabeth Bergener “Escape Me Never.” She was playing it with a Scotch instead of a German accent, for some of the objectionable burr remained; playing it with all the yearning of her young soul in her voice. “Please,” she was saying to herself, “please make them like a Scotch accent as much as a German one!” She . was thinking of the international success of German-born Elizabeth Bergener. Laurie Shevlin’.’, rich “r’s” and narrow “a’s” were all that stood between her and a movie contract when she first came under the eye of a Paramount talent scout. Garbo has’ done rather well with Swedish overtones In her voice; exaggerated British accents are in demand, and the Spanish accent of Lupe Velez and other Latins has never seemingly grated on the ears of photoplay-goers. Yet an executive thought those same movie audiences wouldn’t like a Scotch accent! So Laurie Shevlin, who thought she was done with learning the Three It’s, went to school again. She read whole books aloud to her mother, her brother, her friends, practicing words and watching lip motions in the mirror in her bedroom. She stayed in the Paramount school for “finds” months longer than any of their other “discoveries,” she whose beauty was outstanding, whose ability made it possible for her to cry real tears without coaching. She stayed to “kill” the accent But for all her study she could not eliminate the trace of it. Fortunately, too, for it was that delectable sound which made the West Coast and fame beckon, following her screen test. Overnight that which had been her bug-a-boo became a passport to golden opportunity. “And why not?” asks Laurie, bubbling over with happiness. “Harry Lauder made a pile of money out of his accent.”

This try for a career faltered just as did the first one, and Laurie returned to New York for good, and continued appearing in Earl Carroll’s night clubs. The years went on, and at some point, she gave up her chorus work.

Now, I have no idea how it came to this, but by 1942, Laurie was disillusion with everything in general, and, probably not seeing a viable way out, tried to commit suicide. Yes, she tried to drown herself in Central park. Highly unusual suicide method, that one. Here is an article from that unhappy occurrence:

Laurie Shevlin, 26 years old, a former chorus girl in Earl Carroll’s night club in Hollywood, was In Bellevue after two attempts to take her life. already end her life by jumping into a pool  Central park. Miss Shevlin Jumped heard her scream, leaped in.

Patrolman Robert Pilsen dragged her to shore. When he let her go, however, she jumped back in. Patrolman Louis Schmidt and numerous others pulled her out again and took her to the hospital.

So, she tried to jump two times – something really serious must have happened to her. Perhaps a love affair gone awry, financial problems, something else? But, bottom line, she pulled out of the chasm, survived, and returned stronger. How do we know that? Well, the next we hear, Laurie was in the papers for a happy occasion – a marriage!

She married Warrant Officer Homer Wilfrid Anderson on October 13, 1945, in Tijuana, Mexico. Anderson was born on April, 2 1916, in Orange, New York, the son of Homer Wilfird Anderson Sr. and Lena M. Anderson. He became a certified public accountant In civilian life, was inducted into the Army February 11, 1942. He is stationed in Los Angeles, with the Contract Audit Air Forces. He was just out of the Army when they hitched.

I have no idea what happened to Laurie afterwards – how solid was her marriage, where did she live and so on. I just know that Homer Wilfrid Anderson died on February 7, 2003, in Virginia.
As always, I hope she had a good life!

Nora Gale

 

Nora Gale – a chorus girl who crashed Tinsel town with scant experience but luckily got a contract, danced in various movies, never made it to a credited role, returned to the stage and in the end, married and left showbiz. Heard this story before? Anyway, let’s learn more about her!

EARLY LIFE

Nora Gwendalyn Gale was born on January 20, 1917 in Bristol, Gloucestershire, United Kingdom, to Herbert Lancelot Gale and his wife Liza Ashman.  Her father worked as a carpenter, her mother was a housewife.

Herbert and Liza actually met and married in Winnipeg, Canada, in 1906. Her mother was married once before, in 1903, to James Wiliam Fear, who tragically died in November 1905. They had a son, Nora’s older half-brother, Wallace James, born in 1904. The Gales lived in Canada until shortly before Nora was born, and then returned to Bristol. It seems that Wallace remained in Canada, living with relatives.

Tragedy struck the Gale family when James, barely 16 years old and working as a rivet heater for a railway company in Winnipeg, drowned in 1920. The family moved to California, and they became naturalized US citizens in 1932. Nora was a outgoing, talented child who was adept at dancing, and wanted to become an actress. She started to work as a chorus girl while she was in high school, and by the age of 16 was an experienced chorine. Somehow she met dance director LeRoy Prinz, and he put her into the good graces with a studio that signed her in 1935.

CAREER

Nora started her career with Murder at the Vanities, a sensual, bawdy and rowdy murder mystery made before the code was reinforced – and boy, could this movie never be made after 1934. Plenty of skimpily clad girls, songs with dubious drug references lyrics , weapons, a sleek killer, murder in the ceiling and dripping blood.. You get the picture! Nora was of course one of the showgirls. Nora’s second movie, Lottery Lover was in a lower tier – a pleasant but not all too interesting musical.  Nora was back in the sexy pool with Rumba, a George Raft/Carole Lombard pairing. Their first pairing was the ultra slinky Bolero which made ton of money for the studio, so they made a repeat, but this movie, made after the code was enforced, had none of the lusty sensuality and energy of the original, not to mention trading the bittersweet ending for  atypical Hollywood happy one, so it’s a mid tier movie at best, perhaps worth watching for the dancing and for Carole/George fans.

Nora undertook a brief hiatus from Tinsel town, got married and divorced in the UK, and returned to Hollywood in 1938. She made only three small movie appearances in this iteration of her career: The Big Broadcast of 1938 and Sing, You Sinners and Artists and Models Abroad.All three movies are musicals with comedic touches, but are quite different in tone – Artists and Models is a more traditional romance, Big broadcast is a pastiche of various performers doing their stuff and even with some animated segments, while Sing you sinners is a charming family movie about three brothers (played with aplomb by Bing Crosby, Fred MacMurray and Donald O’Connor). Then Nora took another hiatus after this.

In 1941, Nora made an appearance in the most well known movie of her filmography – the James Cagney/Rita Hayworth/Olivia de Havilland/Jack Carson classic The Strawberry Blonde, a witty, nostalgic comedy with a great cast and a actually highly realistic story. The plot is simple: Carson as Hugo Barnstead marries Virginia Brush (Hayworth), “stealing” her away from Biff Grimes (Cagney) who later marries Amy Lind (de Havilland), on the rebound. Years later, Biff sees reality of what it would have been if he had married the vapid Virginia (when he’s asked to pull Hugo’s tooth), and hence better appreciates his own wife. This is a golden role for Jimmy Cagney – atypical from his previous gangster movies that made him a household name, here Cagney plays a softer character, albeit still brash and rough around the edges.

Nora’s last movie was The Great American Broadcast, and as one reviewer wrote on IMDB: “actually has a fun if unremarkable plot, pretending to be about the history of radio, but really just an excuse to let its stars do what they do best: Alice Faye to sing in her throaty, comforting contralto, John Payne to look handsome (he also warbles a bit, and not badly), Jack Oakie to clown (less annoyingly than usual). Mack Gordon and Harry Warren wrote many gorgeous ballads;  It moves fast–positively at a gallop, by Fox standards–and though there are anachronisms everywhere, in the costumes and the dialog and the sets, this time you don’t mind. A very entertaining, unpretentious Fox musical.”

That was it from Nora!

PRIVATE LIFE

Nora had a brief one year career in movies before becoming a full time showgirl. She was working in the UK when she and a group of other chorus girls ( Luanna Meredith, Patricia King, Nora Gale, Harriet Haddon and Jeannette Dickson) had toleave England immediately because the Ministry of Labor has refused to extend their labor permits. Nora, who visited her family in Bristol and reconnected to a previous swain, decided to stay and marry him.

So, in 1936, Nora married Alec G. Henstridge back in Bristol. Alas, the marriage was not meant to last, as they were divorced by the time Nora returned to the US in 1938 and started acting in movies again. Here is a article about being a chorine back in those days :

Hollywood had cated, too, because the studios today make dancing a secondary consideration, look first to personality. “Personality and carriage are the two prime attributes we seek,” Prinz explained. “Personality with naturalness, without coyness. A girl may not be pretty, may even be homely, but if she has nice features, can be herself, can walk properly or learn to do it, we can transform her in 30 days so that you won’t recognize her. She might not have been able to get a job in the Five-and-Ten before, but when we get through with her, she’s ready for a place in any smart shop.” To EFFECT these magic changes, the studio teaches the girl: 1 how to walk; 2 how. to talk, and not to talk too much; 3 how to use makeup according to her type; 4 how to dress her hair; 5 how to pick and wear clothes; 6 to study her own personality and how to bring out her best points. Only after the girl has been thus remolded does her ability to dance come into the picture. Even then, dancing is preceded by the teaching of rhythm, which is essential not only to dancing but to proper walking. “In teaching rhythm,” said Prinz, “I have the girl walk to a waltz, then to a fox-trot, finally according to her own idea of how she should do it and pointing towards a natural but graceful interpretation.” As outstanding examples of the new type screen chorine Prinz named Nora Gale and Harriet Haddon. “Nora came to me when she was 16,” he said. “She was just another chorus girl who wore slacks and carried a little grip with a baby doll painted on it. She wanted to break her neck doing acrobatic dancing. Now she is a smart and poised young lady.” Later we met Miss Gale. . She seemed a serious-minded young person with an urge toward getting somewhere in pictures. “I want to be a comedienne,” she confided. “Most of the girls are pretty earnest about their careers, and work hard for advancement.” I fall Mm University. Then she got a summer Job in the studios. One reason Hollywood girls are movie sophisticated than they used to be, she believes, is to be found In the influence upon them exerted . by numbers to Broadway girls who have come to the film studios in the past few years. ‘ “Since I started here I’ve worked both in New York and London,” sha said. “The Broadway girls used to be so much older for their, years than the girls here. At 17 they were like youthful women of 25. You would never catch a New York chorus girl running around in bobby socks, sweaters and slacks and low heels, with a scarf on her head.” Miss Haddon agreed, as did Dorothy Haas, whom we met and immediately listed as our personal selection.

In Hollywood, Nora was mighty serious about Mack Gray, George Raft’s right hand man (also known as Raft’s companion-bodyguard-shadow in the press) and a close friend of Dean Martin and Frank Sinatra. For unknown reasons the two broke up after about a year together. In 1940, she was beaued by Louis Zamperini, the U.S.C. intercollegiate track star and one-mile champion whose later wartime experiences would later serve as the basis for the Angelina Jolie movie Unbreakable.

Then, there were reports that Nora was secretly married to Ned Stewart. It seems that they were very much close to the altar, but something thwarted them and they gave up. We can assume that Nora was quite bitter over the experience, here is a newspaper snippet written after their crash-and-burn romance:

Not all actresses prefer actors for boy-friends. Nora Gale seems definitely typical. Young and attractive and sufficiently talented to win a part In “Unmarried,” with Buck Jones and Helen Twelvetrees, Miss Gale has this to say about the stated situation: “I’ve been in pictures about a year and a half and I have yet to find a movie actor who didn’t consider himself a pretty competent article indeed. I mean most of them are of the firm opinion they are the real McCoy.” Nora’s preference is for young business men. When she steps out over the holidays, it will be with young business men, the same kind of young men you find in Toledo, O., or South Bend, Ind., just as well as in Hollywood. Nora prefers them to actors. “They know more and talk less.”

Ouch! One wonders what exactly happened to warrant this kind of an outburst. There is usually a very good reason why actresses date more actors, movie people (or in some cases millionaires) than normal business people, but Nora was hurting and perhaps she truly needed a break from Tinsel town? Anyway, next thing we know, Nora gives up Hollywood and becomes a member of the St. Regis ice show.

Unlike many other starlets who said all sorts of stuff to the papers and then did the exact opposite, Nora really did date and in the end marry a businessman. She was wed to George Shannon Baker, a wealthy liquor magnate of Minneapolis, in January 1942 at a 4 p.m. ceremony at the home of Mr. and Mrs. Cedric Adams, with the The Rev. Frederick D. Tyner officiating. The couple lived in Minneapolis after the nuptials, and Nora retired from the movies for good.

Unfortunately, the Bakers were divorced in 1951. I have no idea what exactly did Nora do after the divorce, did she stay in Minneapolis or move back to Los Angeles?

Roughly 20 years after they were almost married in Los Angeles, Nora married Ned G. Stewart on November 2, 1961. The couple moved to Hawaii to enjoy their mature years.

Norah Gale Stewart died on July 21, 1996 in Honolulu, Hawaii.

Geraldine Farnum

Daughter of a silent film pioneer and a movie extra, Geraldine Farnum was predestined to become an actress herself. Sadly, except being a dancer in a long string of movies, she never came remotely close to being a true thespian before retiring to raise a family. Let’s learn more about her!

EARLY LIFE

Geraldine Ann Smith Farnum was born on November 13, 1924, in Los Angeles, California, to Franklyn (Smith) Farnum and Edith Walker. She was their only child.

Geraldine’s dad Franklyn was a colorful character. Born in Boston, he was on the vaudeville stage at the age of 12 and was featured in a number of theater and musical productions by the time he entered silent films near the age of 40. His very long career consisted mostly of western movies. One of his three wives was actress Alma Rubens, to whom he was briefly married in 1918 (the couple divorced in 1919). Franklyn had one daughter, Geraldine’s older half-sister, Martha Lillian Smith, born in 1898.

Geraldine’s mom was a movie extra who married her dad in 1921. In the late 1930s, Edith still worked as an movie extra (very impressive, to work as an extra for so long!) and earned good money for it. Franklyn, after giving up on movies for a time, was an assistant manager in a cigar plant. From early childhood it was clear that Gerry would also end up in showbiz like her parents – she was a talented dancer and wanted to become a actress when she grew up. her parents were naturally supportive and that it seemed there was nothing standing between Gerry and stardom, if she caught the right breaks that it.

After graduating from Fairfax High School, she had been signed to an acting contract by Warner Bros studio, and thus started her career.

CAREER

Geraldine’s career can be roughly divided into two parts: from 1944 until 1947, and from 1950 until 1952. Both periods were pretty lackluster to Geraldine as an actress, but at least she racked up 22 credits!

During the first part of her carer, Geraldine mostly appeared as a dancer in musicals, and, surprise, surprise! like her dad, she appeared in her fair share of lower-budget westerns (my favorites, NOT!). Since I never review westerns, here are all of the western movies where she played a dancer: The Yellow Rose of Texa, Utah, Bells of RosaritaMan from Oklahoma, Trail of Kit CarsonSunset in El Dorado, Dakota, Don’t Fence Me In, andAngel and the Badman. That was a mouthful, right?

Aside for the westerns, there was a smaller number of more  or less interesting movies – Casanova in Burlesque a mid tier, sometimes funny comedy about a professor who is also a burlesque comic (played by Joe E. Brown), Brazil, a generally entertaining musical with nice dance numbers and Tito Guizar is one of his rare Hollywood appearances, It’s a Pleasure, a Sonja Henie brain dead musical (I know I don’t like Henie, one has to wonder how a great ice skater but dismal actress like her succeeded in Hollywood in 1930s, when there was tons of talent there! How? Oh, you can never guess!), Earl Carroll Vanities, typical Earl Carroll fare, with a great number of scantly clothes beauties and no plot (of course Gerry was one of the beauties), Hitchhike to Happiness a surprisingly watchable early Dale Evans musical, when she displaying sexiness and slinkiness she would never late recreate in her Dale Evans, cowgirl persona, Behind City Lights a completely forgotten crime movie, based on a Vicki Baum novel, Love, Honor and Goodbye, another totally forgotten movie with no reviews on imdb, not even a summary, The Tiger Woman, a nifty crime movie, where the leading man is a private detective who gets mixed up with the luscious Adele Mara (The Tiger woman of the title) who needs some help getting her husband out of trouble, as he is 100 grand in debt to a bookie, and finally, the last one, Murder in the Music Hall. Now, this movie is worth writing about some more. A film noir at heart, it’s swanky and posh as heck and this dichotomy between a gritty genre and luxurious setting makes it a true standout. While the story starts as a typical whodunnit thriller against the setting of Radio City Music Hall, it has enough twists and turns and the acting is generally good (Vera Hruba Ralston, although much maligned, could pull out decent acting chops under some circumstances). Plus, there are Helen Walker, Ann Rutherford and Nancy Kelly to lend plenty of support.

Gerry got married after this, took a break, and returned to movies in 1950 with Copper Canyon, a unusual western – first the leads are played by European urbanites Ray Milland and Hedy Lamarr, it’s an attractive looking film, with color by Technicolor and colorful costumes by Edith Head. Unfortunately, that’s the highlight of the movie, although all in all it isn’t a bad effort, just not a particularly good one. Gerry appeared in three more movies: Call Me Mister, a so-so Betty Grable musical, Son of Paleface, a hilarious Bob Hope romp, and Destry, a sub par remake of the more about Destry Rides Again.

And that was it from Geraldine!

PRIVATE LIFE

Geraldine married John Weidmer in the Church Around the Corner, in a ceremony headed by Reverend Neal Dodd, in 1943. It was first marriage for both. John Robert Weidmer, born on March 5, 1922 in Iowa to John Weidmer and Jean Lewis, who would later live in Chicago. He lived in Iowa for a time, then moved to California, and was drafted into the US Navy during WW2. When they married, Weidmer was stationed at San Pedro. The marriage, like most wartime marriages, was of very short duration, and they divorced by 1945. John died on January 15, 2002, in Nevada.

After her divorce Gerry started to date actor George Shepard Houghton, commonly known as Shep Houghton. They married in 1946. Here is an imdb profile on Shep:

Born George Shephard Houghton on June 4, 1914, in Salt Lake City, Utah, Shep is the youngest of two sons born to George Henry Houghton and Mabell Viola Shephard. Far from being born into show business, his father was an insurance company representative who moved his family to Hollywood for business reasons in 1927. As luck would have it, they rented a house on Bronson Avenue just two blocks from Paramount Studio’s iron front gate, and not far from the Edwin Carreau studio. Picked off the street by an assistant producer, Shep’s first work in the movie industry was in 1927 as a Mexican youngster in Carreau’s production of Ramona, released in 1928. As a thirteen-year old he also worked in Emil Janning’s The Last Command, and continued to work for director Josef von Sternberg in several subsequent pictures. He found movie work to his liking, and out of high school he worked through Central Casting for Mascot Productions, Universal Studios, Paramount Pictures, Fox Film Corporation, and Warner Brother’s, where he became a favorite in the Busby Berkeley musicals as a dancer and chorus singer. In 1935 he married Jane Rosily Kellog, his high school sweetheart. Together they had one child, Terrie Lynn, born on September 22, 1939. They were divorced in October, 1945.

Gerry and Shep’s son Peter William Houghton was born on August 19, 1947, in Los Angeles. Unfortunately, this marriage was quite spotty and the couple divorced in 1949. Here is a short article about the proceedings:

George Houghton has divorced actress Geraldine Farnum on charges of desertion. They separated on July 10, 1948, lie said, after she went to the beach for a vacation and then refused to come home, saying she wanted to have her, own life. Miss Farnum, daughter of the Franklyn Farnum of the pioneer film family, did not contest the divorce, but Houghton’s attorney said that the couple had agreed to the actress being granted custody of their young son.

After their divorce, Shep continued to work in both movies and television until his retirement in 1976. He married Mel Carter Houghton in 1975. Shep died at the ripe old age of 102 on December 15, 2016 in Hoodsport, Washington.

Geraldine also kept busy after the divorce. Here is an early 1950s article about Gerry:

Geraldine Farnum is as pretty as, for example, Anne Baxter and as graceful as Betty Grable. But you don’t read much about Gerry. She’s one of the movies’ unsung actresses— extra, bit player, dancer, showgirl. Working in so many categories, she admits bewilderedly, when you ask how to classify her: “I don’t exactly what I am.” Gerry is 25. a bleached blonde, a divorcee, and the mother of a two-year-old son Peter. The fact that she is the daughter of a silent-screen western star, Franklin Farnum, has helped her get movie work. Her father still plays bits. He is often confused with two other prominent early- movie Farnums—William and his late brother Dustin. The two families are not related. Gerry started movie-acting when she was 19. She was under contract for a time to two studios, then retired to have her baby. Recently she resumed her career again. What are her chances of being picked for stardom? She says: “Probably as good as everybody else’s. I’d appreciate it—can’t honestly say I wouldn’t be thrilled. But I won’t be disappointed if it doesn’t happen. I have my child, and that’s responsibility enough.” I found Gerry arrayed in a feathery headdress and scanty costume for a number with Grable in “My Blue Heaven.” In “Down to Earth” she doubled for Rita Hayworth—back view— walking down a cloudy ramp on a day Rita wasn’t at the studio. More recently she was a bar-girl in one sequence and a square dancer in another of “Copper Canyon.” As a dancer she earns $111 weekly unless lifted off the ground, even a teeny bit, by another performer. Being lifted pays more—$137.50 a week. It’s a standing beef of dancers that showgirls receive still more when, Gerry says, “all they have to do Js stand there and look pretty.” As a showgirl she has been paid $175 a week. She grossed about $4,000 last year. Her dues in the actors’ and extras’ guilds total $8.50 per quarter. “Right today,” Gerry would advise other girls, “if you want to make a living you shouldn’t get into pictures. They’re not making the lavish musicals they did. But,” she concedes, “it’s fun to work in pictures.” Wolves are no problem for a smart working girl, Gerry reports, especially if it’s known she has a boy friend. Hers is a stunt man. Her best friends are members of the crew. A cameraman once had two stars sit farther apart in a close-up—so Gerry, in a row of extras behind them, could be seen.

While Geraldine was working with her dad, Franklyn, in “With a Song in My Heart,” he revealed to the press that Gerry was engaged to stuntman James van Horn. She married Van Horn in 1951. Van Horn was born on September 24, 1917, in South Dakota, to Frank Avery Van Horn and Edna Racette. He came with his family to California and started her acting career in 1927, and ended it in 1929. He mostly worked as a stuntman since 1939, but returned to acting in 1950. His crowning glory was that he appeared with Barbara Stanwyck in the 1955 adventure film “Escape to Burma.”

Their son Casey Lee was born on December 12, 1952, in Los Angeles. Since he came from a showbiz family, it was no wonder that the two-months-old Casey played the part of Natalie Cantor, one of Eddies five daughters, in the Warner Brothers musical, The Eddie Cantor Story” in 1953. Geraldine retired from movies to take care of her family, and never acted again.

James and Geraldine divorced at some point in the mid 1950s. van Horn continued working in the movie industry, and died on April 20, 1966. Geraldine married, in the late 1950s, to a Mr. Rose.

I have no idea if Geraldine is alive today, and as always, I hope she had a good life!

 

Jean Ames

When she first hit Hollywood, Jean Ames claimed that her only dream in life was to become a great actress, and that everything she did in life served that “higher” purpose. And indeed, she rose from a uncredited performer to a credited performer, and there was a upwards swing in her movies at the time… It didnt’ go quite as smoothly as it may have done, but something was happening. And then puff, she got married, left movies and never returned to trying to achieve her great dream. Surprised? Not really. Let’s learn more about Jean!

EARLY LIFE

Irma Salzman was born in August 24, 1919 in New York City to Walter Salzman and Minnie Eppler, their only child. Both of her parents were Austrian immigrants. Her father was a high end fur merchant.

The family moved to Boston in the mid 1930s and Irma attended grammar school there. She completed her education at Hollywood high after her family moved to Hollywood. During her school days, when she wasn’t appearing in class plays and studying, she was playing basketball and swimming. One notable thing is that she passed Senior Red Cross Life Saving swimming tests and was a certified lifeguard. She was also a champion high diver. However, Irma’s ambition had always been to be a great actress and she took additional acting classes to prepare herself for her future career.

Sadly, William died in the late 1930s, and in order to help her mother financially, she began working behind the counter in a dress shop. When she was fitting a new spring dress in the show window, an agent’s spouse spotted her and judged her as possible screen stuff. The agent signed her, and her career started!

CAREER

Jean made her debut in Million Dollar Baby, a nice, pleasing comedy with May Robson playing a crusty old millionairess who wants to pay back some money to Priscilla Lane, and gets caught up in her love life. Good acting and charm galore, this is classic Hollywood at it’s simple, unassuming comedic best. A similarly very good screwball comedy was Jean’s next movie, The Bride Came C.O.D., a kind of a It happened one night rip of with the dynamite pairing of Bette Davis and James Cagney.

It was time for some serious fare with Manpower, a heavy, sultry, manly movie (as the name implies, of course), with George Raft and Edward G. Robinson playing two rugged lumberjacks, sparring for the attention of the alluring Marlene Dietrich. Sadly, jean’s next movie, International Squadron, was a lesser effort with Ronald Reagan the lead. A bit better was the navy themed Navy Blues, with Ann Sheridan and Jackie Oakie.

Jean’s next foray into movies, , was a peculiarity in itself. As one reviewer on imdb claims: Anatole Litvak, who directed so many women’ pictures, directs this odd little film that starts out as a kind of “small town band does good” picture, takes a turn into gangster territory, and then gets really dark with a venture into film noir and mental illness. An interesting combo for sure! The leads were played by Priscilla Lane and Betty Field, both underrated actresses.

1942 was jean’s best year. She got credited and acted in a string of solid movies. She started with All Through the Night, a less known but very good Humphrey Bogart movie, where he plays a rowdy bookie/swindler who accidental stumbles upon a Nazi conspiracy. Great, great cast (Jackie Gleason, William Demarest, Phil Silvers, and Frank McHugh, Petter Lorre, Judith Anderson), a innovative combo of a comedy-musical and straight-laced spy movie make this a unusual if superb winner. Highly recommended! Jean actually has a credited role in the movie.

Jean then appeared in The Male Animal, a comedy set on a college campus, dealing with free speech, censorship and democracy. While not nearly as good as the original Broadway play, it’s still a biting satire and worth a look, if nothing than to see Henry Fonda and Olivia de Havilland together in a movie. Next came the tearjerker Always in My Heart, only worth watching to see Walter Huston and Kay Francis.

Jean had a prominent role in Larceny, Inc., a surprise gem – it’s a very funny comedy with extremely witty dialogue and top notch performances from Edward G. Robinson, Jack Carson and Broderick Crawford, who plays three crooks who want to rob a bank and in the interim fall into the “keeping shop” mode and become successful at it. Then came You Can’t Escape Forever, a lightning-fast, lightweight murder mystery/haunted house/romance/gangster movie. it’s  another example of genre blending,  and it mostly works – while not a top classic it’s charming and holds up even today.

Jean started 1943 with The Hard Way, an Ida Lupino film all the way. if nothing else, it’s worth watching just to see her play a ruthless, get-what-you-want manager who milks her younger sister (played by Joan Leslie) for all she’s worth (and more). Jean was one of the ton of pretty girls in The Powers Girl – the film you watch for the scenery, not for the story or performances.

 Jean appeared in three B movies for the closing of her career: first one was Silent Witness, a so-so comedy crime drama about a corrupt lawyer who gets reformed when his DA girlfriend leaves him. It’s solidly made but with nothing to truly recommend it. The second movie was Truck Busters, another formulaic low budgeter, and the third one was Follow the Band, worth watching for Leo Carrillo alone.

And that was it from Jean!

PRIVATE LIFE

Jean confessed to the papers that if she was not an actress, she would turn to modeling. Next to acting, Jean was most interested in music and painting, her artistic avocations being playing the piano and doing landscapes in water color. She also designed many of the smart clothes she wore.

Another peculiarity: Jean looked so much like Ida Lupino she had difficulty getting jobs. She also wrote once to the casting department that “I am a healthy Ida Lupino.” But otherwise she was a typical run-of-the-mill Hollywood working girl, who even rode to the studio on a bus. Here is an interesting bit on Jean:

Jean Ames Is willing to suffer for her art but Warner Bros won’t let her, not on concrete, at any rate, She has to ride a bicycle without using her hands for “The Male Animal”, and had been practicing on the studio’s concrete streets. But, during one rehearsal whirl, she narrowly avoided colliding with a prop truck. On another, she did collide with Henry Fonda. On still a third, she collided with the pavement when the bike went out of control. She came up with a skinned knee and various black and blue marks. ) Orders were promptly Issued that thereafter she practice on a soft dirt track.

Jean’s first real Hollywood beau was Bruce Cabot, and that was semi serious, as Bruce was well known for his appreciation of pretty Hollywood girls, and Jean was just one in a long string of pretties.

Then, in 1943, famous aviation captain Capt. Vincent B. Evans, skipper of the famous bomber Memphis Belle, visited Hollywood and it was love at first sight between him and Jean. Vincent had to return to Amarillo for aviation practice, and Jean, head over heels in love, visited him during her leave of absence from the studio.

They were young, pretty, the world was at war and marriages were at an all time high – it’s no surprise that Jean and Vince, despite knowing each other for only a few days at most, had planned to marry while she was in Amarillo, but later decided on the postponement. Instead of a hurried marriage, Jean returned from Amarillo to Los Angeles by plane with the announcement that she will be a June bride.

They eloped to Las Vegas on Sept. 17. Hollywood, and Jean was married under her real name, Irma Salzman. The honeymooners went to Texas, Vince’s home State.

Vincent Evans was born on September 6, 1920, in Fort Worth, Texas. Some time after 1930 his family moved to Henderson, Texas where the Vince attended the North Texas Teachers College after graduating from the Henderson High School.

He was already running a successful logging company, but wanted some excitement in his life, so he enlisted in the Aviation Cadet Program of the U.S. Army Air Forces for Bombardier training on January 5, 1942, and was commissioned a 2d Lt and awarded his Bombardier Wings at Victorville Army Air Field, California, on July 4, 1942.

While she was honeymooning in Texas with Evans, trouble was in the works, for her predecessor insists Vince was a bigamist.

Dinusa “Dinny” Kelly Evans, former wife of Capt. Vincent B. Evans, often deco- rated bombardier of the famed Flving Fortress “Memphis Belle,” today claimed ;her husband’s marriage to Movie Starlet Jean Ames was s illegal. Capt. Evans I eloped here Sunday and his attorney said a Mexican divorce had been award- ‘ed the Army fiier three weeks ago at Juarez. “If there has been a divorce, i haven’t heard about it,” Mrs. Evans said, “and I haven’t signed any papers yet. Mexican divorces are illegal and I’m going to fight to have this decree invalidated u there was one.” The newspapers say he got his divorce on charges of incompatibility after a year’s separation,” she continued. “That’s not true. He lived with me last summer and early fall. He started to get a divorce last fall but dropped proceedings when I told him I would fight it. I’ll fight this divorce to the end, and the battle will start immediately.” Capt. Evans marriage to Miss Ames was not entirely unexpected. The couple met in Hollywood when Capt. Evans was on a visit after completing 25 missions over Europe.

I have no idea how this got solved, but somehow it did, and the Evans remained married. But, it seems that Vince was a well known womanizer – while he was married to Dinny, he romanced a night club singer named Kaye, whom Evans met in London. Some said he was planning to return to her after the war and they would marry, but guess it didn’t happen that way.

Vince was deployed at the Pacific Theater in September 1944. He was action in Saipan and Guam. He left active duty on August 6, 1945

The Evans had a daughter, Valerie Brooke Evans, born on February 14, 1945 in Los Angeles, while her father was still in the army. Their marriage was tempestuous, and it didn’t last long. After World War II, Vince began a career in acting and wrote screenplays.

The couple divorced in the late 1940s. Vincent became a business man in Buellton and Solvang, California, remarried to Marjory Winkler, and died in a airplane accident in 1980.

Jean completely falls of the radar from then on, and I have no idea what happened to her.

Jean Ames died in 1975.

Anne Rooney

In the mid 1940s, there was a sudden onslaught of pretty, petite and cute actresses who were often not great beauties, not that great as thespians, but were able singers and charming to booth. Jane Powell, Deanna Durbin, Ann Blyth, just to name a few of the best known… However, a great of such girls didn’t make the grade – Anne Rooney firmly belongs in this category. Nice looking in a girl-next-door kind of way, with a solid voice and colorful vaudeville background, she was seemingly perfect fit for the times, but somehow, she just didn’t work. Let’s learn more about her.

EARLY LIFE

Shirley Anne McCully was born on August 15, 1926, in Santa Clara, California, to Ernest McCully and Hazel Rooney, both professional vaudeville dancers. She had an older sister, Mary Virginia, born in July 14, 1920. She grew up in Santa Clara.

Anne adopted her parents’ profession quiet early, as she was groomed to go on stage much liker her sister. At five she was guest star with Al Pearce and his Radio Gang, and at eight she joined her mother and dad, Hazel and Ed McCully and Virginia in a coast-to-coast vaudeville tour. They were known as “Mac’s Merrymakers.” At thirteen she made her film bow in “Flicker Fever.” She gained some movie acting experience thus as a child actress in the old Educational (as they were called) comedies. I won’t profile these comedies as they are no on her IMDB page.

Anne, at 16, was singing with Muzzy Marcellino‘s band at the Glendale, California, Civic Auditorium when she was resigned for the movies and appeared in “Babes On Broadway,” with her “namesake,” Mickey Rooney. A talent scout spotted Anne when she was singing with Muzzy Marcel-lino’s orchestra in Glendale, invited her to the studio, the next day she had a contract.

And that is how is started!

CAREER

Anne made her grown up debut in Babes on Broadway, a Mickey Rooney/Judy Garland happy-go-lucky, “let’s stage a musical” musical. The story isn’t important (like there is one) – just enjoy the colorful sets, the nice music and good dancing sequences, plus Mickey and Judy!

Anne signed with MGM and appeared in a two of their movies: Calling Dr. Gillespie (of the famous Dr. Gillespie movie serie,s with Lionel Barrymore as the eponymous Gillespie), For Me and My Gal , a charming, breezy and air light Judy Garland/George Murphy musical with a special appearance by Gene Kelly!).

Anne was sacked by MGM afterwards and signed by Universal, and she continued her musical trajectory: her first movie for the new studio was Henry Aldrich Gets Glamour, one of the Henry Aldrich series of movies. Not that well-known today, Henry Aldrich was a popular series back in the 1930s and 1940s, and this was the 7th movie in the series, where Harry becomes extra popular overnight to his date with a movie star, and girls start to flock around him. Anne plays one of the adoring girls, but is overshadowed by more popular actresses like Diana Lynn, Frances Gifford and Gail Russell. That same year Anne also made Follow the Band,  a run of the mill light romantic comedy where the actors weren’t even the main attraction, but you have a dance band playing good music and featuring cameo performances of stars as night club acts. So, Eddie Quillian and Mary Beth Hughes fade as the leading couple, and we have Leon Errol and Leo Carrillo among others. Plus a very small, early role by Robert Mitchum!

Anne’s string of musicals continued with Always a Bridesmaid, a complete forgotten Andrews sisters musical. Then came This Is the Life, an overall enjoyable comedy about a love triangle between the sweet soprano Susanna Foster, goofy but endearing tween Donald O’Connor and handsome and suave Patric Knowles (the triangle becomes a square when Peggy Ryan comes in!).

Then finally came Anne’s five minutes of fame and her first leading role. The year was 1944, the movie was Slightly Terrific. However, it ended up a real fiasco for Anne – why? Well, because she was the thinnest part of the movie. The film’s plot is the typical variation of the “Let’s Put on a Show” plot, and the only thing carrying the movie is the veteran comedic actor Leon Errol, delightfully funny as twins of totally opposite personalities. You can’t take his eyes of him – he such a master of his craft and obviously had impeccable timing. Other than him, there is absolutely nothing to recommend this bland mess. Not long after this movie, Anne and Universal went their separate ways.

Anne came back to movies in 1946, with Freddie Steps Out, the second of the “Teen-Agers” musical series at Monogram. Monogram was infamous for being a cheapskate studio, and most of their movies are so low-budget looking that you have to try hard and squint not to see it and try to enjoy the story and the actors. The Teen Agers musical series isn’t the worst thing they churned. Tailor made to showcase young singer Freddie Stewart, who achieved some degree of success on the radio, this particular movie has such afar fetched story (A high school student is mistaken for a famous radio singer who goes missing) that there is too much suspension of disbelief. Ah, at least you can see Frankie Darro and Noel Niell in it.

Anne played the leading lady’s (June Pressier) sister, and repeated the same role in the third movie of the series, High School Hero. This one also has a predictable, half-stupid story (the leading man’s school has a rivalry with another school in town and during a football game, when the chips are down, they know they are gonna lose, but as a joke one of the cheerleaders goes in drag in a football uniform and the girl ends up their secret weapon). All in all, the series went on for five more movies, stopped in 1948, and took down with it the leading man’s movie career.

PRIVATE LIFE

Anne was a scant five feet and weighs less than a hundred pounds. Since she was underage when she got her first contract, she has to obtain court approval of the said contract calling for initial salaries of $75 a week. The other girl who also got the same contract was Donna Reed. Donna ended up more successful than Anne in the acting stakes.

When she came to Hollywood, Anne’s was publicized in large part via her instantly recognizable moniker – namely, Annie Rooney was a famous character played by Mary Pickford back in the 1920s. Here is a typical article of the day:

Anne was born the same year Mary Pickford played the title role in the film production, “Little Annie Rooney.” – Anne’s parents, Mr. and Mrs. E. E. McCully, proved prophetic when they named their daughter Anne Rooney McCully on her birth at San Jose, California. Now 17, Anne has almost precisely the same measurements as Miss Pickford. She’s exactly five feet tall and weighs an even 90 pounds. And she is a likely choice for today’s “America’s Sweetheart” title.

Like many starlets, Ann did her share of war effort, touring camps extensively. Despite being a vaudevillian, Anne hadn’t been out of the state of California until she left on a camp tour through the middle west and deep south. Here is an article:

As we have often said there are very few motion picture actresses, especially the starlets, who can contribute much in the way of entertainment when they make a personal appearance. Anne ‘Rooney, working here and there for Universal and now appearing as headliner on the National Base Tour. ‘

Winsome Anne, a rising young starlet, comes to Camp Livingston Sunday for a five day visit and a series of formal and informal visits about the camp. Although not related to Mickey Rooney, she was signed for a term contract after being seen in a Mickey Rooney-Judy Garland film young singers of popular songs. Miss Rooney is scheduled to arrive at Livingston Sunday morning and following dinner.

As for Anne’s love life, John Hopkins, of a wealthy Cleveland family, once engaged to June Preisser, was her first serious beau and first fiancee. She and her mother had gone to the place where Jack was stationed and all seems very serious and very close to the altar. For unknown reasons, the relationship was terminated not long afterwards and no wedding took place. Anne than dated Captain Paul Penrose, a Western Airlines pilot.

Anne left Hollywood in 1944, and worked as a showgirl in the Copacabana. There she met and married Jerry Brooks, Los Angeles and Miami cafe owner, also called the zipper king by the press. He once owned part of the famous Slapsy Maxie’s night club. They settled in Los Angeles and their son Steven Jerome was born there on July 24, 1948.

Sadly in 1949, before their son was a year old, they were dogged by persistent rift rumors, which were later confirmed by Ann’s mother, Mrs. Hazel McCully. Pretty soon Anne consulted attorney Buron Fitts and sued for divorce. Their marriage was finished by early 1950.

Anne became Donald O’Connor’s personal assistant, or his Girl Friday, and stayed in Hollywood, albeit not as an actress. In the early 1950s she met Vincent Nuccio and started dating him. Nuccio was born in 1914 to Joseph Nuccio and Josephine Garogalo in Ohio. Nuccio married 16 January 1936 Yolanda Palmieri in Ohio, and moved with her to California, where he started an insurance business that boomed over the ages, making him a rich man. Sadly, Yolanda died sometime in the late 1940s, making him a widower.

Vincent and Anne were first married on February 2, 1957, settling and living the high life in Beverly Hills. Since, Nuccio was very wealthy and fond of the social life, they became the golden party-giving couple of the West Coast. However, their domestic life was far from tranquil and stable.

The Nuccios divorced in 1963 and remarried within a year, On may 15, 1963 (that was fast). But there was one, itsy-bitsy problem: a prenuptial agreement Anne signed before tying the knot the second time around. The document allegedly entitled her to zippo. Then, in 1970ys, she decided to divorce Nuccio again. She wanted half the estimated $10 million in community property. And that’s why Annie went to renown lawyer Marvin Mitcheslon, who was famous for his palimony cases.

Here is an article about their messy divorce:

After setting aside part of a prenuptial agreement that said the wife would receive a flat sum of $5,000 in event of divorce, a Los Angeles Superior Court judge Monday awarded former movie singer and dancer Annie Rooney $12,000 a month support from wealthy insurance executive Vincent Nuccio. Under terms of the judgment, the 54-year-old Miss Rooney could receive as much as $3.5 million from Nuccio if she lives out the 28 years of her acturial life expectancy, her lawyer, Marvin Mitchelson, said. According to Mitchelson, Nuccio. 65, also agreed that in event of his death, payments to Miss Rooney from his estate would continue until she died or remarried. The ruling was not viewed as a victory for Miss Rooney by Nuccio’s lawyer, Marshall Zollo, who said her attempt was to “overturn the entire prenuptial agreement and get half the estate.” “The court record showed that . . . for the purpose of this hearing, the husband’s net worth was $5 million,” Zollo said. “She was trying to get half of that and she got zero. She got support but none of the property.” As a matter of law, Judge Frances Rothschild ruled invalid the section of the agreement entered into prior to the couple’s second marriage in 1963 that limited the amount of spousal payment to $5,000. The judge, however, upheld all remaining portions of the prenup.

Anne and Vince divorced, and she lived the rest of her days in California, out of the newspaper radar.

Anne Rooney Nuccio died on August 16, 2006, in Toluca Lake, California.

 

Diane Cassidy

Pretty tennis player and part time model, Diane Cassidy was noticed by Mervyn Leroy and hoped to become like his other protegees, Lana Turner and Clark Gable. Sadly, this didn’t’ happen, as Diane only made a few movies (in minor roles). Always socially active and beaued by more than a few millionaires, it wasn’t a surprise when Diane retired to become a socialite.

EARLY LIFE

Diane Mary Cassidy was born on March 8, 1932, in Southampton, Long Island, New York, to Joseph and Mae Cassidy. Her younger sisters were Clare, born in 1935 and Jean, born in 1939. Her father worked as a manager for a private practice.

Diane grew up in Southampton, and started playing tennis when she was a bit more than a toddler – by her teen years, she was known as a local tennis champion. After graduating from high school, she commuted to New York City for work – she began as a Powers model in the city, modeling undies. Her coincident display of gams and curves nailed down her movie contract. How exactly? Well, while she was in Hollywood on vacation, Mervyn LeRoy tapped her on the shoulder at a Hollywood restaurant, and it was the beginning of a new life for Diane. She was literary caught eating hamburger and onions.

LeRoy was famous in Hollywood for having an sharp eye always on the lookout for future stars – his eagle eye spotted Lana Turner in a sweater outfit and Clark Gable acting a small part in a stage play Accordingly, everybody was hoping that Diane was going to be next star to achieve such caliber of fame. Diane sailed through a screen test, was signed to a $200 per week contract as a start and will draw $1700 eventually every week. And so it started!

CAREER

Diane had a credited, but not really meaty role in Invitation, a high quality weepie with Dorothy McGuire playing a sickly rich girl and Van Johnson plays her “bought” husband (of course she doesn’t know this). The plot is pretty obvious from here, with a third women barging in (this time it’s my favorite, Ruth Roman), and overprotective father, played by Louis Calhoun, trying to hush things up. While no masterpiece, it’s a solid, good movie, with  a great performance by Dottie, so a recommendation by all means. I never particularly liked Van, but when he gets serious, he’s much better than playing the nice boys next door he usually did during his MGG years.

Diane than did a string of MGM musical movies (six of them to be precise). Whoa, sound nice doesn’t it? Well, here we go:

The first musical was Skirts Ahoy!, a Esther Williams musical. Unlike many of other movies Esther made for MGM; this one isn’t a blown out spectacle with impressive aquatic sequences, but s more low key, character driven drama sprinkled with singing/dancing numbers. The viewer is left to decide if he likes it or not – but if you want your typical golden age musicals, this movie is not for you. If you want an endearing, low calorie drama with an upbeat message, this might just do the trick. The plot is very bare bones: Three young ladies sign up for some kind of training at a naval base. They fall in love with three different men and try to woo them. While a bit outdated, overall it’s a fine movie. A plus is seeing a whole array of talented performers doing musical numbers – Bilyl Eckstine, DeMarco Sisters, Debbie Reynolds

The second musical was Lovely to Look At. The movie has quite a basic premise: Howard Keel plays an aspiring Broadway producer, trying to get a new musical off the ground. When his fellow impresario, comic Red Skelton, inherits Parisian dress shop they and pal Gower Champion decide they’ll sell up and splash the cash on their stage show – until they catch a look of the tasty co-owners (Kathryn Grayson and Marge Champion). They fall in love and the rest is history. While it’s just a big fat piece of fluff, it’s gorgeous fluff with great dancing, good singing and some stunning fashions (designed by the all time great Adrian). Diane+’s role is small, and it seemed she wasn’t particularly going forward in her career.

Diane’s third musical was Because You’re Mine, a problematic Mario Lanza movie. Problematic! How and why? Well, there is a story how Lanza didn’t want to make the movie and to sabotage it, he gained a massive amount of weight. He also didn’t like his co-star, Broadway alumna Doretta Morrow, and found the story unappealing. You can guess why – they used the same old Lanza character and put him in the army. Extremely unimaginative. Anyway, the final product isn’t as bad as it reputation warrants, but it’s far from Lanza’s best work.

Diane’s fourth movie was Everything I Have Is Yours, a Marge and Gower Chamption movie. Since the Champions were very limited as thespians, their movies have to hide this sad fact and boast their dancing ability to compensate. This movie services it well enough. The story is pretty simple – a professional husband/wife dancing team sound familiar) are having marital problems and so on and so on. Of course, there is a happy end and tons of dancing, so maybe it’s a good movie to watch on a rainy Sunday afternoon.

Diane’s last movie was Million Dollar Mermaid, this being of Esther William’s most famous movies. It’s actually a biopic of Annette Kellerman, the trailblazing female swimmer, but the whole phrase became synonymous with Esther (especially after her biography was called like the movie).  Like any typical Hollywood biopic, most of the plot of Million Dollar Mermaid is fictitious and made more theatrical than it was in reality, but one didn’t watch these movies for the story but for the aqua ballet and the dramatics. Victor Mature plays the husband with an “I can sell anything” charm and it’s interesting seeing him in such a role (and yes, this is pure imagination too, Kellerman’s husband wasn’t a Hollywood promoter).

And that was it from Diane!

PRIVATE LIFE

When Diane came to Hollywood, she was legally under age, so her contract had to be court approved. Sadly, it seems that Diane had some previous debts she had to cover first –  at least so she told Judge Frank S. Swain, and claimed that these debts shrink her $200-a-week salary to $70. The judge ordered the young actress to put 10% of her salary into U.S. Savings Bonds, and gave her a discourse on being thrifty. Very handy advice!

Here is an article about Diane from this period:

For a 19-year-old girl Diane combines the freshness of “sweet sixteen” and the smoldering oomph of the more mature film lovelies. Take the word of such an old hand as producer Mervyn LeRoy that Miss Cassidy is “The Whistle Bait Queen of .Hollywood.” LeRoy discovered the pulsating beauty at a race track, and followed her until she signed on the dotted line. Diane, only recently removed from Southampton, N.Y., told International News Service demurely that “Some cheesecake is awfully sexy and not too nice—but I don’t mind the refined type.”

That statement by the M-6-M beauty should bring on more refined cheesecake, or just more cheesecake by any other name. Miss Cassidy is willowy, and while not threatening the throne of Jane Russell, can do a lot of things to a bathing suit. Diane lifted her two arms expressively to the skies, like a gal in a filmy evening gown looking at the moon: “I think the kind of cheesecake is all right where they take your picture in a filmy, evening gown looking at the moon.” Lest students of the more charming gender of anatomy be discouraged, Miss Cassidy added: “It’s all right to take pictures on the beach, too—if you’re wearing a suit that a girl actually would don to go to the beach.” The light auburn-haired charmer added coyly: “Anyway, why should I object to  cheesecake? Every girl has to do it in Hollywood, unless she is Jane Wyman, a Greer’ Garson or somebody like that.”

“I’m not in love, but I was several times back in Southampton,” says Miss Cassidy. “Right now Hollywood has been such a thrill that I haven’t given romance a thought But, maybe sometime, huh?” Her biggest thrill, she said breathlessly: “The other day Clark Gable said ‘Hello, Baby’.”

In 1949, when she was 17 years old, Diane was pretty serious about wealthy Peter Salm, who she dated for almost a year. Salm was the son of Millicent Rogers and her first husband, Austrian aristocrat and tennis player, Ludwig “Ludi” von Salm-Hoogstraeten. Salm owned a huge property in Diane’ hometown, Southampton, and this is probably how they met.

Anyway, in early 1950, the relationship broke apart and Peter started dating Charlene Wrightmsan. Not the one to be idle, Diane made  Peter a repartee by going out with the young and wealthy Bob Neal. It was a no go, since Peter and Diane didnt’ reconcile, and rarely saw each other from then on. In October 1950, she was seen with Joe Perrin, but they busted before the year was out.

In 1951, Diane was dated by both Huntington Hartford and by Pat Di Cicco. Both liked pretty ladies and both dated them by the shovel load. Pat was involved with the temperamental tennis star Gussie Moran at the same time, and the press was expecting fireworks, but in the end nothing really dramatic happened. She also dated Ted Briskin – Ted planed in from Chicago and spent a few days at his ex, Betty Hutton’s home with the kids, to whom he gave a pair of Shetland ponies. Afterwards he took Diane Cassidy to the Beverly Gourmet and to Ciro’s and from having another date with Gwen Caldwell.

In late 1951, Diane got hooked up with wealthy Chicago paper mill heir, Michael Butler, son of Paul Butler. This proved to be her most endearing, serious relationship – she went to Hollywood, but he kept in touch, and the two youngsters agreed to meet in Acapulco, Mexico, when she caught some free time. They did meet there in February 1952, had a grand time there, and upon their return, were feted as almost engaged and just a step away from matrimony.

In Mid 1952, Diane decided to take a European vacation and sailed to France. While there, she met the love of her life. Thus, In October 1952, married wealthy Venezuelan oil king, Bartholmay Sanchez. Fully named Bartholme Sanchez Pernia, he was born on October 12, 1913, in Venezuela.

The couple settled jointly in New York (with a Park Avenue address) and Venezuela, and had two children, a son, Bartholome Ricardo, born in 1953, and a daughter, Diana, born in about 1955. They traveled around quite a bit and lived the jet set life.

There was not a whole lot I could find about the Sanchez family, and it seems the most famous person in the family was his nephew, Bartus Bartolomes, who became a noted artist. Here is a bit about him:

The family of Bartus owned the “Sanchez Pernia Estate”, one of the largest coffee plantations in the country covering more than 90,000 hectares from 1898 up to 1960’s. However, the newly emerging governments from the sixties, riding the waves and riches of a new oil boom, began to expropriate the land and reduced the agricultural production of coffee and other crops to a minimum.

In the expropriated lands, the government promoted and built the Uribante Caparo Hydroelectric Dam, a project that became detrimental to the Eco-systems of three Venezuelan states: Táchira, Mérida and Barinas, decreasing the productivity of the traditionally cultivated areas, affecting the rivers, local plants and bird migrations because among other things, this area was a pathway or transit corridor used by birds who migrated from Canada to Argentina and vice verse.

These expropriations and the negative effect they had on the environment he grew up in, affected the sensitivity of Bartus. He increasingly devoted his creativity to establishing links between art and water, and he promoted some cultural events that highlight the consequences of human intervention on the environment such as environmental pollution and global warming. Bartus considers the natural environment a legacy that must be protected, and water is the link that keeps all natural environments healthy one way or another.

The Sanchez settled in West Palm Beach in the end. Bartholome died at some point (couldn’t find the exact date of death).

Diane Cassidy Sanchez is still alive today and lives in West Palm, Beach, Florida.

 

Lucille Barkley

Lucille Barkley was a pretty girl who came to Hollywood with great expectations, and, unlike many starlets, was not without some background – she was a semi-seasoned actress who did some theater and was even educated in the acting arts. Against all odds, she did manage to nab roles in several high-profile movies and was a highly publicized personality in Hollywood for a few months. However, her career ultimately went nowhere and she retired after 30 something odd films and TV appearances. All in all , not a bad record for a place where most girls stay for a year or two (if the are lucky!)

EARLY LIFE

Lucy Oshinski was born on November 3, 1924, in Ranshaw, Pennsylvania to Florian and Verna Oshinski. She was one of nine children – her siblings were out of five sisters and three brothers, namely, from elder to younger: Stella, Anette “Tessie”, Helen, Eleanore, Henry, Thomas, Evelyn and Donald.  Her father worked in the coal mining industry.

Lucy spent her childhood years in Ranshaw, which was a typical Pennsylvania coal town. She attended St. Anthony’s Elementary School, and after completing her freshman year in Coal Township High School, Lucille moved with her parents to Rochester, N. Y., where she graduated from Benjamin Franklin High School.

Lucille got her start in show business with the Rochester Community Players with whom she had roles in “My Sister Eileen” and “Arsenic and Old Lace”. She also was a model far Eastman Kodak Company and took prizes in a number of beauty contests before going to New York. After studying a few semesters at the American Academy of Dramatic Art, with the goal of becoming a Hollywood film star. She also did modeling for the prestigious Conover agency and a little dramatics for a couple of years.

While in New York, An agent had discovered her, and whisked her of to Los Angeles. Lucy expected she’d get a contract with 20th Century possibly a lush role in “Forever Amber.” After several weeks of tests, it didn’t work out that way. Lucy was out of work and going nowhere fast.

The agent planned to have her tested but one afternoon Lucille walked Into the Beverly-Wiltshire hotel and was accosted by a stranger, who said: “You should be in the movies.” Yep, he was a Paramount talent scout, he approached her and asked if the “pretty girl” would be interested in a movie career. The “pretty girl” was definitely interested, the studio executives were impressed, and she signed a contract without ever having made a screen test.

CAREER

Lucille started her career as one of the many, many girls featured in the Variety Girl, and continued her array of uncredited performance with Where There’s Life, a mid-tier Bob Hope movie with Bob playing his usual self (this time, a hapless American son of an Eastern European monarch wounded in an assassination attempt becomes a target for a terrorist organization). Then came another Hope vehicle, Road to Rio (at least this one is a classic). This was just the first of several classic that Lucy was to grace, back to back.

Lucille had the luck to appear in one of the bets thrillers ever made, The Big Clock. Ray Milland plays a charming but caddish man who become s a pawn in a deadly game all cooked up by Charles Loughton’s impeccably-played, deliciously devious newspaper tycoon. Then Lucy had a modest but visible role in another classic A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court, this time with Bing Crosby.

Lucille appeared in an unusual MGM film, the hard-boiled noir Scene of the Crime. We have Van Johnson, the perpetually sunny golden boy of the studio, playing a disillusioned, bitter cop who gets smacked left and right but never gives up. While the story is your typical noir staple, the script is witty and the performances are surprisingly good. Of special note is Gloria de Haven, playing  a femme fatale and begin very good at it (unlike her usually happy-go-lucky musical roles).

Lucy than appeared in two mediocre crime movies. The first one was Trapped (not a bad movie overall but made a shoestring budget,and as a plus, you can see Barbara Payton is one of her all to few movie roles! While not a top thespian, she sure had that something and could set the screen aflame!) and The Great Plane Robbery (which is completely forgotten today!)

Lucille then appeared in Diana Lynn cuteness-abound movie aptly called Peggy (they so rarely make movies like that today!), and the exotic escapist fare, The Desert Hawk (with Yvonne De Carlo, who acted in so many such movies I get confused often).  Lucy continued appearing in lightweight movies with The Milkman , where Donald O’Connor and Jimmy Durante star as ambitious milkman and his mentor.  O’Connor is a good physical comedy actor, and his movies work at least on that level. Next stop – Frenchie, a low-calorie western where Shelley Winters plays a saloon queen returning to her hometown of Bottleneck to find the vagrants who killed her father 15 years earlier. It’s loosely based on Destry Rides again, and features a strong female lead, played by the brassy Shelley Winters – more than enough reasons to watch the movie!

In 1951,m Lucille reached the peak of her career with Bedtime for Bonzo, where she actually had a credited, and quite meaty part. Yep, she was the “wrong woman” compared to Diana Lynn’s right woman, but still, it was major progress for her career. The movie itself, which was wildly successful is a thin but amusing comedy, with Ronald Regana playing a scientists who tries to prove that people are a product of their upbringing not genetics, with a help of a very lively chimp named Bonzo. Guess the rest!

She continued in uncredited parts in Up Front, a comedy based on the famed W.W.II cartoons: Lowbrow G.I.s Willie and Joe , and Francis Goes to the Races, one of the Francis series of movies. Lucille finally got a larger role in The Fat Man, a Damon Rumyon movie where the eponymous fat detective tries to solve a dentists’ murder.

Lucille than appeared in a string of low-budget movies – western Arizona Manhunt (where she played one of the leading roles but the leading female role went to a 13-year-old girl!), the adventure The Golden Horde (actually a pretty interesting movie with Ann Blyth and David Farrar fighting against Ghengis Khan – they are a great acting combo!),  Flight to Mars (an early science fiction movies), and the laughable Prisoners of the Casbah,with the always hard-boiled Gloria Grahame playing a demure princess (can’t even imagine this!). The only exception to the low-budget rule was the superb Otto Preminger film noir, Angel Face, with Robert Mitchum and Jean Simmons, where Lucille plays a waitress.

Aware that her movie career left much to be desired, Lucille turned to TV, doing quite a bit of TV shows. Her television engagements have given her a role in a Fireside Theater production, a commercial spot on Groucho Marx‘s quiz show, some Boston Blackie bits and an appearance on Walter Winchell‘s TV program, among others.

Lucille made only two tow more movies before retirement: the first was The Other Woman, an above average Hugo Haas movie. Like all of Haas’s work, it’s a low-budget affair and more than  with surprising flashes of genius and some interesting dialogue thrown in. Not for everybody’s taste, but very good nonetheless. The bad, oversexualized gal, a staple in all of Haas’ movies, here was played by Cleo Moore.  

Lucille’s last movie was Women’s Prison, a gritty drama set in a woman’s prison where the head superintendent played by the superb Ida Lupino is the most dangerous person inside the prison walls. Featuring a ton of good actresses (Jan Sterling, Cleo Moore, Phyllis Thaxter…), it’s a rare all-woman-cast movie and it’s a good one. While no A class classic, it’s well made, swift, with good pacing and with great acting performances.

And that’s it from Lucille!

PRIVATE LIFE

When she first came to Hollywood, her press agent tried to boast her PR standing by having Lucille claim that all Hollywood men are wolves. According to the papers, Lucy made a test for Forever Amber, but blushes so intensely that she was impossible to photograph normally – they had to wait for the blushes to subside in time. The reporters teased her about it, but when reporter ran I into her again she said “I may be blushing, But you should  see’ the gown in which I am going to wear!” Positive thinking Lucy! Here is another article from that period:

Luscious Lucille Barkley who once rated all Hollywood man as wolves, doesn’t have time any more to be beset by them. She’s too busy with her dramatic lessons, now that Paramount has signed her to it very nice contract. ’1 hardly have a minute to myself,” Lucille said when your reporter ran into her on the set of •‘Variety Girl.” “Not even tune for those wolves you used to tall: about?” your reporter persisted, “Oh, no”, replied the brunette beauty from Rochester, N. Y “I am too busy now!”

As for her love life, Lucille Barkley and Tony Curtis were an item for some time in the early 1950s. After the broke up, she was seen jitter-bugging like mad with Joan Davis’s ex-fiance, Danny Ellman. This also didn’t last long.

In 1950, she nearly drowned at. Lake Arrowhead while water skiing. A pullmotor saved her just in time.

Lucille first really serious romance in Hollywood was with manufacturer Lester Deutsch. They dated for almost a year, but broke up for  unspecified reasons. She also had a tempestuous, on off relationship with Edmond Herrscher, who was known as the romanfickle Nobhillionaire among the newspaper set. He was the man who ho turned The 20th Century Fox movie studio backlot into the futuristic Century City entertainment and business complex, and who was quite a bit older than Lucille.

Up next was Pete Rugulo, who used to date Betty Hutton, but that too didn’t last too long. Not long after came Brad Dexter, who was later married to Peggy Lee for 10 days (or something like this). At some point, Lucille dated Paul Ellis. There was a really CONFUSING situation observed at Ciro’s when Martha Martin Ellis ringsided with Roger Valmy at the next table ‘ sat her ex, Paul, with Lucille and just adjacent Paul’s recent steady date, Joy Windsor, with Stanley Richardson. Imagine the great table talk!

Around this time, Lucille discovered a thief stole her make-up case and Abbott and Costello TV film wardrobe from her car while she was having a cup of coffee at Schwab’s. What a great booty for the robbers, eh?

Lucy falls of the newspaper radar in the late 1950s, marrying and opting for a quiet family life. She married a Mr. Burgener, moved with him to San Diego, and had a daughter, Lisa C., born on July 30, 1960. Lucy and Burgener divorced at some point, and she moved back to Rochester, where most of her family was still living.

Lucille Oshinski Burgener died on August 11, 1998, in Rochester, New York. (note: her IMDB has a wrong date of death!)

Nancy Brinckman

Nancy Brinckman was pretty, blonde and a starlet – yep, she checks all of the boxes for the run-of-the-mill type you could encounter by the dozens in 1940s Hollywood every day. However, she got her five minutes of fame due to a swanky publicity trick. Let’s learn more about her.

EARLY LIFE

Nancy Lou Muck was born on August 13, 1922, in Hollywood, California, to Harry Muck and Elsie Brinckman. Her older brother Harry Jefford was born on February 23, 1915. Her father was a salesman. Her mother, a native San Franciscan, came to Los Angeles in 1895 as a baby and acted in silent movies as an extra until she got married.

Nancy grew up in Los Angeles, California, and was interested in performing arts since she was a small child – she danced and sang. Nancy’s parents divorced in the 1930s and Nancy and her brother were given their mother’s maiden surname, Brinckman, for “stage names”.

Nancy attended University of Los Angles (UCLA), starting in 1941, but dreams of an acting career dashed her scholarly aspirations and she became a model and then a theater actress. This is how she landed in Tinsel Town.

CAREER

Nancy appeared in some 20-odd movies, and only a few were credited and most of them were completely forgettable. The first one was Fall In, a Sargent Doubleday movie from the eponymous series of movies. Doubleday and his croonie William Ames are dimwitted soldiers have plenty of dumb luck and Tracy has the nifty ability to memorize things at a glance, and gets a prestigious military job he is hardly qualified to do. This being a Hal Roach comedy, of course he manages to bust the bad guys and save the day (or the world in this instance, as the bad guys are Nazis).  She then appeared in another Roach serial movie, Prairie Chickens , the Third and final film in Jimmy Rogers and Noah Beery, Jr. serial. They play cowboys who get mistaken for a guest of honor and chaos follows. Similar comedies with a thin plot but plenty of zany were Gals, Incorporated and Hoosier Holiday. Nothing doing for her career long-term, but it was solid work and perhaps a stepping stone for something bigger and better.

Something “bigger and better” came with Follow the Boys . As IMDB summary notes, “During World War II, all the studios put out “all-star” vehicles which featured virtually every star on the lot–often playing themselves–in musical numbers and comedy skits, and were meant as morale-boosters to both the troops overseas and the civilians at home. This was Universal Pictures’ effort. It features everyone from Donald O’Connor to the Andrews Sisters to Orson Welles to W.C. Fields to George Raft to Marlene Dietrich, and dozens of other Universal players. ” Of course Nancy gets minimal screen time, and is hard to even notice, let alone to achieve any dramatic moments, but still it was progress. Nancy then appeared in a Similar war propaganda movie, totally forgotten today, is She’s a Soldier Too, with Nina Foch and Beulah Bondi.

The first really interesting movie Nancy appeared in was The Missing Juror, a proto-noir with a great, heavy atmosphere but sadly no budget. The story is formulaic (a madman trying to avenge his wrongful sentencing by murdering the jury that condemned him), the camerawork and the acting is plenty good and George MacReady as the deranged but wrongly condemned man takes the acting cake, with the alluring Janis Carter as a juror coming in second. Then came a completely forgotten Ross Hunter vehicle, A Guy, a Gal and a Pal.

You Came Along starts as a romantic comedy set right after the war, with Bob Cummings playing an aviator who gets stuck on a rally bond and Lizabeth Scott playing the treasury agent in charge of the rally. Of course, they get hitched after getting poked by Cupid’s arrow. Nothing unusual, true, but then everything changes and the movie ends up a major tear-jerker. This wierd mish mash either completely alienated the viewers or left them enraptured, so make your pick! The leads are played well enough by Bob and Liz, and there are messages of hope dispersed throughout, so it’s a nice movie overall. Afterwards, Nancy was one of the many girls featured int he exotic A Thousand and One Nights, and then came her big moment!!

Yes, Nancy got a leading part! Yaay, let’s forget it’s a part in the Gorcery boys movie so we can congratulate her! Joking aside, Nancy really did play the love interest of Leo Grocery in Mr. Muggs Rides Again. Gorcery plays a jockey who  gets set up by a well-known gambler and then tries to make amends. Nancy is very cute in the movie, but everything seems to overshadow her – the crazy Gorcery boys, the horses, Minerva Urecal! Better luck next time!

Unfortunately, Nancy’s next movie is a…. You guessed it, a low-budget western!! Saddle Serenade. What a name! Sadly, no serenades for Miss Brinckman here. The less I write about this movie, the better, so nix it. Nancy was back to uncredited roles in higher budget movie yet again. The first movie was That Night with You, a movie with a plot one can hardy believe! Stars are Susanna Foster and Franchot Tone. Listen to this (taken from an imdb review): “Tone is a successful Broadway producer, Susanna a young hopeful. Seems that Tone’s character has been divorced for 20 years, and is quite popular with the women, but very changeable about with whom and when he might remarry. Thus, his female star in his next stage production gets impatient with his dalliance and leaves, providing a possible opening for Susanna’s character, Penny, or alternatively for Tone’s ex-wife, Blossom, who shows up unannounced to claim the role before Susanna has it nailed down. This is complicated by Susanna’s claim that she is Tone’s unknown daughter by Blossom, initially confirmed by Blosson, for her own reasons. Tone ‘knows’ Suzanne is a fraud, but decides to play along with her ruse for a while, then is convinced she is genuine for a while. Meanwhile, Tone and Susanna act flirtatious with each other, both trying to alternately deny and promote their attraction.” While I never expect anything realistic from Hollywood, this is whauza kooky, but it still managed to work as a boiler plate for romance. And Franchot Tone could do anything – he was so suave and good you’ll believe any role he plays, including this.

Nancy was again uncredited in An Angel Comes to Brooklyn, a completely forgotten Kaye Down movie where she plays an angel trying to help a struggling producer stage a play. Nancy had another uncredited role in Lonesome Trail, another low-budget western. Nancy started 1946 by playing an uncredited role in another Gorcery boys movie, Live Wires. This time Leo isn’t a jockey but rather gets hired to serve warrants to citizens. The movie is just like any other Gorcery boys movie – stupid and silly but made with heart.

IUt was time for Nancy to get the leading reins once again, and she did in Detour to Danger, a completely forgotten Britt Wood crime movie. Wood was a singer who . Nancy had a credited role again in Behind the Mask, a Shadow movie. Yep, before A native San Franciscan, played him in 1994, the Shadow was played by Kane Richmond. Here, the Shadow has to clear his name after the murder of blackmailing reporter Jeff Mann is pinned on him. Since the movie was made by Monogram, a cheapie studio, it has a minuscule budget and doesn’t pull it of nicely, making this a flop. The Shadow deserved better. Then came another Bowery boys movie with Bowery Bombshell. Nancy finally crawled out of the low-budget comedy hole with Dangerous Millions. The plot: A shipping magnate hatches a plan for testing the worth of his heirs, none of whom he has ever seen. As one reviewer wrote: “the plot with secret identities, hidden rooms, exotic locations and the threat of hideous tortures administered by fiendish orientals offered all the matinée delights a youthful viewer would look for.” Ah,m the Hollywood old days! he female cats is very good – Dona Drake and Tala Birrel are both very beautiful and extremely underrated actresses that sadly never got their due.

Nancy made three rather good movies in 1947: The Man I Love, a nifty  Ida Lupino drama movie, where she actually punches the bad guy in the face (go Ida!), I’ll Be Yours, a typical charming but paper-thin Deanna Durbin mush (with Tom Drake as her love interest), and Slave Girl, an actually a tongue in cheek, truly hilarious comedy with Yvonne de Carlo and George Brent (the movie doesn’t make much sense, but it’s really fun!).

And that’s it from Nancy!

PRIVATE LIFE

Nancy hit the papers for the first time in early 1943, trailing clouds of Mardi Gras glass, as a sample of what will be seen at the annual Venice, Calif., festival. She continued modeling for various local Los Angeles events, and pretty soon she was seen almost daily in a large number of columns. In December 1943 Nancy and famous actress Frances Dee completed a hop-skip-jump-and-stand cross-country trip to entertain soldiers at Drew Field, Florida.

Nancy did a lot of war bond work and undertook several USO tours. She was elected “Sweetheart of Company M-2” by the cadets at the West Point military academy and was quite popular as a pin-up.

Then, in 1946,  came this interesting blurb:

Actress Nancy Brinkman, 22, announced today her engagement to Lt. Comdr. Paul MacArthur, a nephew of Gen. Douglas MacArthur. The blonde starlet said marriage plans will be made when her fiance returns from Hawaii. She said she first met the 27-year-old Annapolis graduate on a “blind” date when she was a freshman at the University of California in 1941.

Now, here all the rhubarb starts. Nancy got a ton of publicity for dating General Douglas MacArthur’s nephew and was in the papers every day for almost two months. The war was over, the US won, it was a time of general delight and happiness. A handsome couple, her a nascent actress and he a young man from an upstanding family, was just what the papers needed to plump up all the cheeriness. Yes, I tough so too in the beginning, and I tried to find information about when and where they wed. This completely threw me of the track and caused me a bit of a problem before I finally figured it out for what it was. Confused yet?

Now, let’s go from the beginning. What we knew about Paul MacArthur was that we was a kin of general MacArthur, that he was an Annapolis graduate and about 27 years old in 1946. So I tried looking for the family of general MacArthur, and guess what, I couldn’t find anything on my first try. Paul was waaay too young to be MacArthur’s nephew. Okay, perhaps he was a son of his first degree nephew? After some snooping around, I was sure he was the son of MacArthur’s nephew, Douglas MacArthur, a noted diplomat, and his wife, Laura Louise Barkley, a formidable Washington DC socialite.

However, after some additional digging, it became clear to me that Douglas and Louise didn’t’ have a son, only a daughter, Laura, who was a bit younger than Paul. WTF? So, WHO was Paul MacArthur? The papers exaggerate all the time, so perhaps he was a distant cousin. Now, this was too hard to follow thru, since the MacArthur family had an extensive family tree. I nearly gave up, and then it hit me. Those were lies. Petty lies made up by newspaper columnists to make an engagement of a minor starlet and a normal naval soldier more interesting. Yes, people, Paul McArthur had absolutely no familial relationship to Douglas MacArthur. Perhaps a very, very, very distant one, but that’s so far that they can hardly be called family.

Anyway, it turns out that Paul MacArthur was born in 1917 in Norwood, Ohio, to Thomas B. MacArhur and Eveline Paine. He had a brother, Arthur, and two sisters, Jane and Priscilla. His father was not from a powerful military family, but a normal middle class blue-collar worker – he was a ticket agent at Union terminal. I wonder how Thomas felt when papers started to extensively write about Paul’s imaginary, over-bloated family background. Meh! Anyway, Paul was one of the 456 midshipmen who graduated from Naval Academy, Annapolis, class of 1941. This is one of the largest graduating classes in the history of the academy.

The couple wed in late 1946 or early 1947. Nancy announced in the papers that she, plans to retire from films after her wedding, and she did.  She lived a quiet family life with her husband and daughter Paula Louise, born on July 9, 1948. Sadly, her brother died in 1950, leaving behind a widow and two young children, and her mother died just two months after.

Nancy and Paul enjoyed a happy marriage and lived in sunny California.

Nancy Brinckman MacArthur died on May 28, 1985, in Los Angeles, California.