Marjorie Deanne

Beautiful Marjorie Deanne was a beauty contest winner that came to Hollywood, hoping for a big break. Like with the majority of girls who took down that route, her break never came. However, she became a proficient businesswoman, and in the end, retired to raise a family.

EARLY LIFE

Clara Pauline Boughton was born on January 28, 1917, in Brownsville, Texas, to Walter M. Boughton and Catherine Lieb. Her father was a fire chief. The family lived in Meridian, Mississippi for a time after Clara’s birth, and her brother Edwin was born there in 1922. The family moved to Memphis, Tennessee, in the mid 1920s. Clara attended school there but was very much involved with her Texan side of the family and often visited them in Corpus Christi.

Clara was a natural-born beauty, and from the time she was a high school student, she attended beauty pageants and won titles like “Miss Southwest Texas” and so on. After graduating from high school, she decided to make a career out of it and entered showbiz.

After winning a trip to Hollywood through Corpus Christi’s Splash Day beauty contest in 1935, Clara’s acting career started. Joking! When she came to Hollywood for the first time in 1935, Clara at least she hoped something would happen. She would get an acting gig, she would dance, she would do something. But, alas, it was not meant to be. She spent 12 months knocking vainly at the studio gates and then, with her bank account drained and her courage a bit shattered, finally give up and took a job selling tickets for a Hollywood theater.  She had the usual luck of beauty contest winners and eventually got a job as usherette at the Grauman’s Egyptian theater. At some point, pursuing her regular duties, Marjorie ushered a man to a seat. It was director John Farrow. He decided Marjorie was a screen type and had plans to make her a proper actress. Unfortunately, as with many such cases, nothing happened, and Marjorie was back to square one.

Deciding to try other options a working girl had in that time and age (very, very limited!), she became a traveling saleslady. After noticing that the hosiery business was blooming, she started selling men’s shirts and socks. Soon, she started a profitable business in Hollywood as representative for an Eastern shirt and hosiery mill. Business was good and she hired a salesman. It kept on being good and she hired some more. Now she has 40 salesmen and they support her in luxury while she haunts the casting offices. She did some bit work in movies.

Marjorie, by then wealthy enough to work for and not for money, got a job in the Earl Carroll Theater as one of his beauties. She did some touring with the Theater going to New York in 1939, and then returned to Hollywood and finally started her tenure as a working actress.

CAREER:

Marjorie is most famous today for appearing in a string of Three stooges shorts – Violent Is the Word for CurlyDutiful But Dumb Matri-Phony Three Smart Saps . She also appeared in a string of other comedy shorts – The Nightshirt BanditMutiny on the BodyThe Sap Takes a Wrap and so on.For more information about this, visit Lord heath’s link about Marjorie Deanne.

As far as full length movies go, Marjorie made her debut in 1938 in The Goldwyn Follies, followed closely by Freshman Year and Girls’ School. All three movies are alike as they are the typical fluffy 1930s movie with no real depth but some degree of fun – While the Follies are a plot-less but entertaining musical,  Freshman Year a Dixie Dunbar college musical, and Girls’ School a juvenile story about high school girls and their love squabbles, with the radiant Anne Shirley in the leading role. Marjorie’s only 1939 role in a full length movie was A Chump at Oxford, the witty Laurel/Hardy movie. Marjorie then took a great from movie acting to tour with the Earl Carroll Theater.

She returned to movies in 1941, and that ended up as Marjorie’s most productive year – she appeared in no more, no less than 10 movies! let’s see her full length ones. I’ll Wait for You is a formulaic movie about a bad guy reforms after meeting hard-working, decent folks, only slightly elevated by the endearing performances by Marsha Hunt and Virginia Wiedler (this cannot be said of the leading man, Robert Sterling, performance – he doesn’t have enough gravitas to truly play a hard-core gangster). Then came West Point Widow, another forgotten Anne Shirley comedy, and then Kiss the Boys Goodbye, an interesting musical  based on a play by Clare Boothe Luce which was inspired by the search for an actress to play Scarlett O’Hara in Gone with the Wind. The original play had to be watered down to the extreme, and it works well as a musical/showcase for Mary Martin. Buy Me That Town was also based on superior material – a Damon Runyon story about a crook who wants to bankrupt a small town to suit his own nefarious deeds. The movie is sadly completely forgotten today, but except a solid plot it boasts a good cast (Loyd Nolan and Albert Dekker). Next was Niagara Falls, a completely silly comedy with the Jean Harlow wannabe Marjorie Woodward. The movie is watchable only if you try really hard not to take it seriously in any capacity. Equally dismaying was New York Town Design for Scandal, another Mary Martin semi musical, semi comedy.  

In 1942, Marjorie appeared in only two full length movies: Tarzan’s New York Adventure and the patriotic Star Spangled Rhythm. I don’t think anything needs to be written about the famous Johnny Weismuller Tarzan movies – it’s something that you find either charming and educational and slightly idiotic. I guess Maureen O’Sullavan saves the day for both camps, as her warmth endears her to virtually anyone who ever watched the movies.

In 1943 Marjorie actually appeared in some solid movies, although not all of them were on the same level of quality by  along shot. The first was The Crystal Ball, a lightweight but funny Paulette Goddard/Ray Milland comedy. They were a pretty good combo, and have superb chemistry together, so it’s worth watching just for them. Next was Salute for Three a completely forgotten musical, and a Jimmy Rogers western comedy, Prairie Chickens, which isn’t half as bad as you would think it was. The bets movie of the year was For Whom the Bell Tolls, no more information necessary! So watch it! Marjorie was then in Let’s Face It, a watered and dumbed-down version of a saucy stage play, worth watching if only for Bob Hope and Betty Hutton. Equally sub par was Riding High, a Bob Hope cast off that went to Dick Powell – and he just isn’t the type to make it work. the plot is silly enough: A train arrives in the west and deposits a showgirl (Dorothy Lamour), an eligible bachelor (Dick Powell), and a swindler (Victor Moore), and the fun starts there. Dick and his leading lady, Dorothy Lamour, are completely overshadowed by a funny supporting cast (Victor Moore, Cass Daley and so on).  Luckily, Marjorie then appeared in True to Life, an above average comedy. The plot, while nothing special (A writer for a radio program needs some fresh ideas to juice up his show. For inspiration, he rents a room with a typical American family and begins to secretly write about their true life) lends itself nicely to the crazy family cliché that works because of a hilarious supporting cast. Dick Powell, Franchot Tone and Mary Martin are also top form, and do this kind of comedy with their eyes closed.

And that was it from Marjorie!

PRIVATE LIFE:

Marjorie dated actor Alexander D’Arcy at one point, and was on friendly terms with Frank Feltrop, tennis pro, and actress Movita, who later married Marlon Brando. Not much else was written about her private life.

Then, on March 19, 1944, Marjorie flew to New Orleans, Louisiana, to get married to Capt. Abraham Albert Manuck, attached to the Lifegarde General hospital dental staff there. It was noted that she expected to “settle down to a career of marriage with the captain.”

Abraham Albert Manuck was born on October 4, 1900, in Ehaterinslov, Russian Empire, to Benjamin Manuck and Rachael Sperans. he immigrated to the US, where he finished dentistry school and started to work as a dentist. He moved to San Francisco, and easily merged with the local high society. Manuck was married twice before – to Alba Baglione, whom he divorced in 1936 in Reno, Nevada, and Alla Manuck, whom he divorced in 1941 in Reno, Nevada. (guess Reno was his go-to destination for divorces).

Even before the marriage, Marjorie said to the papers she would not return to Hollywood and indeed cut her ties with the dream factory most thoroughly. She had obtained her release from the Actors guild and from Paramount studio, buying out her contract. Indeed, she would never return to Tinsel town and never made a movie again, opting for family life.

After the war ended, the family moved to Santa Clara, California. The couple had three children: Richard Albert, born on October 8, 1945, Stephen Bennett, born on December 3, 1948, and Denise Cheryl, born on June 19, 1951. All of the children were born in San Francisco. The Manucks enjoyed a happy family life in Santa Clara, and were active members of the local society, doing charity work and being quite civic-minded.

Clara Manuck died on May 21, 1994, in Redwood City, California.

Her widower Abraham Manuck died in 2000, aged almost 100.

 

Harriette Tarler

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Beautiful women who crashed Hollywood only thanks to their looks and charms were plentiful, but rarely did they achieve anything worthwhile. Harriette Tarler, one of those women, did find her bit of fame with the Three Stooges shorts, but not much more. Let’s find out something about her!

EARLY LIFE

Harriette Gerthrude Hecht was born on November 4, 1920, in New York, to Adolph Hecth and Charlotte Reicher. Her parents were both Hungarian immigrants – her father worked as a furrier and wholesale fur merchant. Her older sister Beatrice was born in 1914.

The family moved to Los Angeles at some point, and Harriette graduated from high school there. She got married, had a family, and lived in Los Angeles until 1950, when she started her career (sorry, I don’t have any more info about this).

CAREER

Since my knowledge of the Three Stooges is very limited at best (I’ve never seen any of their movies or shorts, heck I can’t even name al three of them), I’ll simply skip Harriette’s claim to fame – her roles in Three Stooges shorts. She was the girl who got the pie in the face. For more information about her roles in the shorts, visit the fabulous Three Stoones site on this link.

Now, let’s take a look at some of her other acting achievements. Unfortunately, she was always uncredited and did no big service to the movies she appeared in… Thus, her career outside the Three Stooges shorts was a bit lackluster at best.

harriette-tarler-diana-darrin-arline-hunterIn 1957, she appeared in The Joker Is Wild, a surprisingly touching and nuanced biography of comedy legend Joe E. Lewis. Sinatra was in top form playing a man who was a personal friend for many years. Recommended! The next year Harriette was in The True Story of Lynn Stuart, a film noir about operatives going undercover, but with a whole new premise – the operative is a housewife, who, after her nephew died from a drug OD, decided to do something and help the police. it’s a low-budget movies and the cast is second tier, but it’s unusual, out of the ordinary and interesting.Next came The Party Crashers, a typical delinquent youth 1950s movies with Connie Stevens trying to choose between wild boy Mark Damon and nice guy Bobby Driscoll.

As Young as We Are was a rare B movie that tackled the student/teacher romance in the 1950s. While today you wouldn’t even flinch at the theme, back then it was dynamite and never shows in A budget movies. While this is a half-baked, lowly made film, make no mistake, the performances are good enough to warrant it a watching. Pippa Scott is pretty good in the female lead, and Robert Harland hits a right note as the highschool in love with his teacher.

The Buccaneer is an entertaining, fun, well made adventure movie. It’s not a classic nor is it a work of art, but it more than fulfills it’s promises. Yul Brynner is the eponymous buccaneer, and Anthony Quinn in the bad guy. Pirates, high seas, sword fights, pretty ladies, oh my!

Don’t Give Up the Ship is a typical Jerry Lewis comedy, this time on a ship and mocking naval 1d39cfee15d2cec41d1a805310b604e1beaurocracy. What can I say, if you like Jerry Lewis you’ll like this movie for sure. Since I’m not a fan (quite the opposite), I’ll just say no. The only reason I could find to watch this is the gorgeous Dina Merrill in the female lead role. Love Dina!!

Last Train from Gun Hill is a western that manages to outgrow that (IMHO) limited genre to become sa semi classic. it’s not as well-known today as some other staples of the genre like High Noon or 3:15 to Yuma, but it’s a sounding hit in almost al departments. Stalwart story (it starts like a run of the mill revenge story) that hides more depth than you think – check. Good actors – Kirk Douglas, Anthony Quinn, Carolyn Jones – check. Great cinematography – check. Suspenseful action scenes – check. Horses – check. Nothing else you need!

Harriette moved to New York and left movies behind for another career.

PRIVATE LIFE

Harriette was an interesting, colorful person with some major flaws. She was immensely charming and easily won people over. She also intrinsically understood how HOllywood worked, and knew that talent and beauty were not enough to gain fame – you needed a gimmick. Hers was being nicknamed Tiger and singing her autographs with a tiger paw next to her name. Long after her career ended, she moved to New York and decorated her apartment wholly in tiger print. She also wore tiger print silk dresses.

63627888_1460942147Harriette married  Leo M Schechtman on June 1939. Leo was born on April 20, 1916 in Chicago, Illinois, to Max and Lona Schechtman. Their daughter Stephanie Shelton was born on November 16, 1942. They divorced not long after her birth. Leo was allegedly a mean-spirited, tight-fisted man who never contributed anything to Stephanie’s well-being, even stole her the money Harriette gave her. He later remarried and had children. He died on March 4, 1990.

Harriette married for the second time to Arthur Tarler on November 3, 1951. Tarler was born on July 9, 1921, in Germany, to Siegmund Tarler and Regina Heimberg. He immigrated to the States in 1938, just before the start of WW 2. He lived with his maternal uncle in the Bronx, New York. Somehow he got to California in the mid 1940s and started a lighting fixture business. The marriage was short-lived, and here is an article about their August 1954 divorce:

Actress Harriette Tarler, 27, who now is engaged in a divorce contest with Arthur Tarler, 33, in the courtroom of Superior Judge Gordon Howden. Tarler, with Tobias G. Klin-ger as his counsel, had just withdrawn his cross-complaint charging mental cruelty, and was contesting only his wife’s claim to certain of their community assets. The husband is in the lighting fixtures business …
“I’m only beginning to see the light on this,” she told the court. Questioned by her attorneys, Henry J. Gross Jr. and Jacques Leslie, the actress said her husband stayed out nights until 4:30 or 5 in the morning. Her friend, Pauline Goddard, a fashion co-ordinator, corroborated her. She said that at a party one night someone complimented Mrs. Tarler, and “her husband immediately started belittling her.” The hearing will be resumed Monday.

So you get the drift, another messy divorce. But, that was the way divas did it back in the 1980s. Anyway, the two divorced and went on with their lives. Arthur remarried to Judith Rappapor, and had two children, Regine L, born on November 7, 1956, and Stacy J, born on January 30, 1959. Artur retired in the 1980 and went to live in Denver, Colorado, with his wife. He died there on August 23, 2009.

In 1958, Harriette left everything in Los Angeles (including Stephanie who was 16 years old) so she can move into the New York Plaza hotel suite, paid by her married boyfriend. Stephanie had to fend for herself (remembered, she was only a high schooler then) – the relationship between mother and daughter was strained (at best) after that. It seems that Harriette, for all of her immense charm and allure, was simply not a maternal woman. She was competitive, even with her own daughter, and too much of an egoist to really care about other people. Sadly, she never managed to outgrow this fatal flaw of hers, and both her daughter and her grandchildren felt it keenly.

10712698_742243325842384_7268080002787469464_nHarriette married her third husband, Roy Price Steckler on September 11, 1959, in Las Vegas, Nevada. Steckler was born on January 1, 1926, in New York, to Samuel and Stella Steckler. His father was a wealthy druggist and drug store owner – the family lived in Park Avenue and employed two servants in the 1930s. Little is known about the marriage and they divorced him in the 1960s.

Harriette became very testy about her age as time went by. She and Stephanie would travel to Las Vegas and double date as sisters (weird!!). She forbade her granddaughter to call her grandma, and her own daughter never refered to her as mom. Nobody was sure how old she really was, and she kept her true age a secret until the day she died.

Harriette found work as a telephone sex therapist in the 1980’s and 1990s. She would lie about her age, counsel her client, and demand payment via credit card. She owned a black cat called Tuthancamon, which looked like a a miniature panther, and she grew a rare breed of orchids in her apartment. She was excentric, larger than life and one of a kind, and people adored her, for all her bad sides. (much information about Harriette comes from her granddaughter Jessica Queller’s fabulous memoir! Jessica was a writer for Gossip Girl series, and she’s a true gem!)

Harriette’s health declined in the 1990s, and she spend more and more time in the hospital.

Harriette Tarler died on November 18, 2001, in New York City.

 

Kay Sutton

Kaysutton1

This is going to be a bit longer than usual… What to say about Kay Sutton? Let’s take the indirect route. Women in Hollywood are a great indicator of the prevalent mind-set of the time, with regards to women and work. I understand that a large number of women who landed in Tinsel Town in the 1930s actually wanted to either get married well or simply to have fun. There is nothing wrong about this – to each his own, and it’s almost moronic and incredibly naive to think that only die-hard artists went to Hollywood to make art. Yet, what often irks me is when a woman openly declares she does it “for the art”, enjoys acting, that’s it’s more than a meal ticket for her – and then puff, two months later, and she is married and retired. The culture of blatantly lying to the press and using it as a tool for more popularity is nothing new in Hollywood – it’s been around from the very start, in fact. I am very ambivalent about Kay in this regard. She was an above average beauty, even for high Hollywood standards. She seemed like the sort who decided to act because she really liked it and wanted to carve her way in the field, which is great. Then she got married, left movies, divorced and returned to movies.

Okay, so she may have wrongly estimated her former husband, may have been dismayed by the reality of marriage and after getting burned, returned to work. Nothing to chide her about, its normal human behaviour to learn and change your plans as you go. During this time, she lamented in the press how she wants to have a career and that movies and marriage don’t mix. Okay, this makes perfect sense for sure, as a number of top actresses were never married for this very reason. BUT, after a few short years, she gets married and puff puff, she’s off again (this time for good)! Who is she kidding here? Why all the laments then when you were ready to throw it all away at the very mention of repeated matrimony?

The fact is, perhaps I am too harsh at the girl – if you watch her movies, it’s clear she was not a talented actress and had little to recommend herself except her beauty. It was a very big dilemma if she could have even survived in Tinsel Town for a long time. Then again, if she wanted to be a serious actress, why didn’t she work on it, why didn’t she take lessons? Oh, I give up! At least I think she did well for herself, all things accounted for…

EARLY LIFE

Katherine Warburton Sutton was born on June 14, 1915, in Irvington, New Yersey, to and William Warburton Sutton and Katherine Rutan Neumann. Both of her parents were from well off, higher middle class families. Sadly, the divorced when she was very young.

When she was about 4 years old, she was sent to live with her maternal grandmother in New York, where she attended elementary and high school. Due to her vivacious nature she was nicknamed Sunny. Kay planned to be a newspaper woman and studies journalism, but was pushed into acting by friend who tough she was just the right type for Tinsel Town. Kay liked the idea, and, determined to succeed at it, she went to Hollywood in the early 1930s.

CARRER

Kay started her career getting uncredited bit parts in a string of well-known movies: first Roberta, the first pairing of Ginger Rogers and Fred Astaire (with Irene Dunne and Randolph Scott as the other romantic couple – and yes, it works), then the very good Jean Harlow vechicle Reckless,bland and forgettable musical Old Man RhythmRogers/Astaire movie (without Irene Dunne) Follow the Fleet, and ending it with the superb A Star Is Born (gotta love Frederic March!!). It seemed that Kay was on a very good path to some semblance of stardom.However, she retired to marry cameraman Edward Cronjager. The retirement was of short duration, and she returned to movies in late 1937, and by early 1938 was working in  her full capacity.

Night Spot is a pedestrian RKO one hour feature, about the night club racket, with Joan Woodbury and Allen Lane in the leads. Nothing to write home about. This Marriage Business was no better, another RKO quickie. It’s about a judge that had a spotless marriage registrar record – none of the people he married ever divorced.Throw in corrupt city mobsters and a budding young newspaper man, and you’ve got a hot mess. At least the underrated Victor Moore gets his time and place to be funny (something he was very good at).

KySutton2Kay was cast in a better movie when she appeared in Vivacious Lady, is an aptly named comedy, well written, well-directed and well acted. The storyline is simple (a college professor marries a chorus girl on a whim and later has difficulties admitting it to his parents) but you do’t need much more when you’ve god James Stewart and Ginger Rogers in the leads. They don’t make them like this anymore, it’s a true non complex movie with no big pretensions and lots of soul.

The Saint in New York was Kay’s first starring role. It’s the first of the Saint movies made by RKO in the 1930s and 1940s. Louis Hayward plays the hero – or the anti hero to be precise. We all know that with the establishing of the production code, much of the freedom of scriptwriters of Hollywood simply went out of the window. Movies often became predictable and insipid. However, a well versed writer and director could show, or hint, things that could not be said or shown on the screen. While this is not a movie of subtlety, Templar is a surprisingly dark hero, not averse to using less than noble ways to achieve his goals. While he is basically trying to do a good thing –  rid New York of a band of hard-core mobsters – the way he does it makes him no better than the guys he hunts down. He plots and kills mercilessly. I have to say, I was surprised by this, and it’s a nice surprise more than anything else. To see a hero fighting crime – a hero who is not your typical boy next door, a hard-boiled cop or a graceless mobster – perfect! Hayward is superb in the role. I have a soft spot for the guy – he’s an incredible mixture of elegance and menace. Sadly, it is more than visible here that our Kay, despite all her beauty, was not a great actress. She was okay, but had neither the charisma nor the acting skill to get on top. But all in one, to say about the movie: Recommended!

KAySutton10Kay had an uncredited bit in Having Wonderful Time, a cute, fluffy but plot thin comedy with Ginger Rogers and Douglas Fairbanks. Kay played a prominent role in I’m from the City, a Joe Penner low-budget comedy. If you like the Three Stooges, it’s a good comedy. If you don’t like them, it’s nothing more than an idiotic movie. Well, to each his own! Kay continued playing supporting roles. She was in Smashing the Rackets, a pretty decent movie about corruption in the district attorney’s office with Chester Morris in the lead and with the ever suave Bruce Cabot (in one of his better roles) as the bad guy.

A good thing of being a contractee of RKO’s in the late 1930s was the chance to appear in one of the Ginger Rogers/Fred Astaire movies. While not her first Astaire/Rogers movie, Kay had the honour of appearing in Carefree. What can I say, it’s a Rogers/Astaire musical, and we all know what that means. It’s a big plus of Kay’s filmography if nothing else. She continued to appear with prestigious stars – in The Mad Miss Manton she plays opposite Barbara Stanwyck, one of the best actresses ever to grace Hollywood. It’s a madcap and sharply written comedy, nothing more, nothing less.

Then, came the moment I dread to see in any actresses career – the moment she ventured into low budget western territory. When the horse is billed about you, you know it’s time to go! Kay’s foray into the wonderful world was Lawless Valley, opposite George O’Brien. The less I say about these movies the better, most fo you already know I’m far from being a fan of the genre. Beauty for the Asking is one fo the “serious Lucille Ball movies”, where Lucille was miles apart from the scatter brained housewife everybody came to live during the 1950s. The plot, while predictable, deals with a topic close to my own heart – a woman trying to do good in business in the 1930s. It’s inspirational stuff if nothing else, and there’s also Frieda Inescort, one of the most royal and regal actresses ever to grace the screen. Twelve Crowded Hours is a typical B plot boiler fo the time, with Richard Dix in lead, as a newspaperman trying to avenge a killed co-worker. Of course he was killed by a heartless mobster, and Dix goes on an tries to steal from the mobster and then he… Blah blah blah blah. You get the picture.

KaySutton3Not long after Kay appeared in her fourth Roger/Astaire movie, The Story of Vernon and Irene Castle. She played the lead feminine role in S.O.S. Tidal Wave, what is probably a bad movie (listen to the plot, as one reviewer wrote in IMDB – The plot was pretty thin but still memorable for me. Suppose the mob wants to spoil the election and arranges for every station in town to play a live documentary or newscast about the tidal wave hitting New York. Everyone would be glued to the TV box and forget to go vote. Thus the ward bosses get out to vote against the mayor, district attorney? Whoever. Somebody with some alertness realized that a building which had gone down was still transmitting stock news on the ticker. Whoa, call New York, confirm,get the voters out.) Yeah, imagine, they made a movie out of it! No comment!

Kay was again uncredited in Call a Messenger, a minor movie about a reformed youth. She was credited in The Man from Montreal, but it’s another insipid potboiler. Finally something better came her way with Balalaika, a nicely done Nelson Eddy/Ilona Massey musical. Nelson is a wooden actor, no doubt about that, but Ilona is a passionate woman and pretty good in her role. The director, set design and cinematography are all first class.

Kay appeared in The Man Who Talked Too Much, a movie version of the well known play Mouthpiece (about a district attorney who sends the wrong man to jail, becomes an alcoholic because of it, and then tries to turn his life around), but her scenes were later all deleted. The movie was later remade with Edward G. Robinson, and that movie, Illegal,is much better known. Kay was billed in Laughing at Danger, but the movie is almost considered lost and I have nothing to write about it.

Sky Murder was the last of the Nick Carter, Detective movies, and a pretty good one at that. Walter Pidgeon was superb as Nick, and had one of the best sidekicks in the business, played by Donald Meek. Next came Li’l Abner, a movie based on comic by Al Capp, about the citizen of Dogpatch. Yep, you have three guesses to try and nail down Dogpatch on the map 🙂 The later version, from the 1960s, is better known, and this one made no impact on anyone involved. Scratch and let’s move on.

Kay played a miniscule role in The Bank Dick, one of W.C. Field’s best (and best known) movies. Then came A Night at Earl Carroll’s, a movie with a truly moronic plot (mobsters trying top make Earl Carroll look bad so he’ll go bankrupt?) but lots of showgirls (what else can you expect from a movie with Earl Carrol in the name?). Maisie Was a Lady is the third in the ten movies about brassy showgirl Maisie Revier, played to perfection by Ann Sothern (she truly was the right type of actress for the role). The story is pure fluff, but the supports are wonderful, including Lew Ayres and the extremely sweet Maureen O’Sullivan.

KaySutton9You’re Out of Luck was the movie where Kay finally played another female lead. It’s one of the bunch of movies Frankie Darro and Mantan Moreland made, always playing best friend who get mixed up in all the wrong stuff. While not high art, there actually decent efforts and worth watching. The Trial of Mary Dugan is a little seen, almost forgotten remake of the better known Norma Shearer movie. Mary is played by Laraine Day, an actress I highly admire, but this one hasn’t got any good notices so scrap. Kay continued her string of uncredited performances with Sunny – it’s is a charming musical that gets totally bogged down by an absence of any coherent plot. Poor circus girl falls in love with a wealthy young man but his family disapproves… With a happy ending of course… Things just starts to drag and go nowhere and that’s about it. It is one of the few movies that British superstar Anna Neagle made in the US, so at least it’s not a complete no name movie…

Sergeant York  is a well known movie, one of the most famous ones Kay appeared in. Her role is uncredited, but hey, at least she was in the same movie as Gary Cooper! Kay ended her RKO contract with Flying Blind, a dismal effort at best. With a stupid story (spies from nowhere steal a plane and crash land it in the jungle, and out heroes have to survive all that, imagine!), below average acting and generally dull pacing, it’s, quite frankly, a bad movie. There are worse to be sure, but also much, much better.

In 1941, Kay married her second husband, moved to Hawaii with him and left movies for good.

PRIVATE LIFE

Kay was 5’6” tall, weighted 120 pounds, had to do sports to maintain her figure and was a book lover.

Kay entered the scene in 1935. In August 1935, it was announced she would marry Ed Conjager, Hollywood cameraman, in September. She promised she would leave the screen after the marriage.

Kay married Edward Conjager on September 16, 1935, in Los Angeles. They went on a honeymoon the next day. Edward was born on March 21, 1904, in New York City, to Charles Cronjager and Mary Kenney. He worked as a cinematographer in Hollywood from 1925.

KaySutton4IMDB claims their marriage lasted for just two days, but this is not true for sure. Kay and Ed stayed married for almost two years, separating in May 1937 and divorcing in August 1937. Kay lamented to the newspapers “what’s the use of having a husband when you never see him” and blamed their career on keeping them apart. She then claimed that a woman cannot have a husband and a career, and that she would much rather take her career over matrimony. She won her divorce by saying that Edward called her a “lousy housewife”. Kay resumed her career after the divorce.

Cronjager went on to marry starlet Yvette Bentley in August 1942. His only child, Loretta Arele, was born on November 25, 1950. Sadly, Edward died on June 15, 1960 in Hollywood.

Kay wasted no time in finding a new beau. She dated Walter Kane, Howard Hughes right hand man, in August 1937, even before her marriage was officially terminated. They lasted until late in the year.

Kay started 1938 by dating Alfred Gwynne Vanderbilt, a good catch on all accounts (except the looks maybe). But we all know that Al dated al the actresses, but in the end married only girls his own class (he married Manuela Hudson, a West Coast socialite, not long after)! I hope the actresses he dated knew they (probably) never had a chance. In November 1938, she was dating Joseph Hoenig, an investment broker. In early 1941, she dated Vic Orsatti (I repeat – who didn’t date Vic at that time and place?). Unusual for Orsatti, they lasted for a couple of months. She also revealed to the papers that she wore a round medallion of chased antique gold set with diamonds and rubies, suspended with an intricate golden chain.

In January 1941, she was seen with Carlos Barbe, noted Uruguay diplomat, then serving as a vice consul. Then, in March 1941, it was back to Vanderbilt, who was married at that time but separated from his wife Manuela. In April 1941, Kay was named the most beautiful brunette in Hollywood, beating the likes of Dolores Del Rio, Hedy Lamarr, Vivien Leigh and Joan Bennett, among others. Wally Westmore, the leading make up artist in Paramount, told the press how Kay combines a classically beautiful face with stunning body proportions and wonderful coloring. Kay sure was beautiful but can’t match, by along shot, the popularity of other brunette actresses mentioned here. In May 1941, she was dating Gene Markey the scriptwriter who married a string of stunning brunette actresses – Hedy Lamarr, Joan Bennett, Myrna Loy. Now tell me that Kay wasn’t his type!

KaySutton6By June she was dating Townsed Netcher, the department stone tycoon, and by July he was replaced by Nils Ashter, the handsome Danish silent movie star. The papers were at it, just how hot hot they were. Then, Kay surprised everybody by marrying Clifton Stokes Weaver, Honolulu restaurant director and sugar plantation owner. They met in April in Hawaii, dated briefly before she went back to Los Angeles and then lost touch for a while. He visited Los Angeles in June, called Kay to see how she was doing, and the rest is history! They eloped to Juma, Arizona, in early July, 1941. On a side note, Kay dated Nils almost to the day she got married. Well, that’s Hollywood for you!

Clifton Stokes Weaver was born on January 7, 1917, in New York, to Spencer Weaver and Emily Stokes. He was the second son and last child – his older brother Spencer Jr. was born in 1911. His mother died in 1930, and by 1940, he was living with his older brother and his wife Sarah in Hawaii, and attending college (could be Virginia Military Institute). He graduated in 1940, and after the war started served in the US naval reserve. We find more information about Clifton on the site Ventura Real Estate:

Clifton was a Partner in the largest Restaurant chain in Hawaii during the 40’s and 50’s, Spence Cliff Corporation. Their holdings included the Pioneer Inn and Lahaina Broiler on Maui, Hotel Tahiti and Hotel Tahiti Village in French Polynesia, and numerous Restaurants on Oahu including Queen Surf, Cocos (now the location of the Hard Rock Café in Waikiki), Tiki Tops, Fisherman’s Warf, and the Tahitian Lanai.

We move on to more information, especially about the brothers shared company, Spencecliff:

Their father, Spencer Fullerton Weaver Sr, was one of the nation’s leading architects in the 1920s. Known as Major Weaver; among many other projects, his firm designed the Waldorf-Astoria, the Hotel Pierre in New York City, the Biltmore Hotels in Los Angeles and Florida, and the Breakers in Palm Beach.  He designed and owned the Park Land and Lexington Hotels in New York. Their mother, Emily Maloney Stokes Weaver, was a noted tennis player; she won two national indoor tennis doubles championships in 1914 (with Clare Cassel) and 1918 (with Eleanor Goss Lanning.)

The family lived in an apartment on Park Avenue, New York and had a country estate known as ‘Spencecliff,’ in East Hampton, Long Island, NY.  (washington-edu). But that ‘Spencecliff’ is not the basis for this story – this story is about the partnership of brothers Spence and Cliff and the Hawaiʻi business they founded, Spencecliff Restaurants. Queen’s Surf (with its Barefoot Bar,) Tahitian Lanai, Coco’s, Tiki Tops, Fisherman’s Wharf, Senor Popo’s, Trader Vic’s, Kelly’s, South Seas, Ranch House … the list goes on and on.

It was a family operation, run by brothers Spencer (Spence) Fullerton Weaver Jr (May 18, 1911 – Aug 30, 1996) and Clifton (Cliff) Stokes Weaver (Jan 7, 1917 – Jan 23, 1992.) After a couple visits to the Islands, the boys moved and later, intrigued by the fleet of hot dog trucks in Long Island, they got into the food service business with a half-dozen ‘Swanky Franky’ hot dog carts in 1939; then, later set up a stand at Ena Road and Ala Moana in Waikīkī.

Then came the Patio Restaurant downtown and the Snowflake Bakery; the Weavers also had a catering contract to feed five-thousand at Hickam.After service in World War II, they formed the Spencecliff Corporation; it grew, and over the next few decades dominated the restaurant scene. They opened the Sky Room (1948) at the airport terminal at John Rogers Field (now Honolulu International Airport.)   In addition to the pre-flight airport presence, Spencecliff catered the food to airline passengers on ten major airlines, including American, JAL, Canadian Pacific, Qantas and Air New Zealand.At one time, the Spencecliff operation included 50-restaurants, cabarets, coffee shops and snack bars in Hawaiʻi, almost exclusively on the island of Oʻahu. It also operated two hotels, three bakeries and a catering service in Hawaiʻi and two hotels in Tahiti.  There were more than 1,500 employees.

Spence Weaver would later be inducted into the Hawaii Restaurant Association’s First Annual Hall of Fame in 2007. One of the most famous of their operations was the Queen’s Surf (acquired in 1949.)  They converted the former home of heir to Fleischmann’s Yeast fortune, Christian Holmes (Holmes also owned Coconut Island,) and turned it into Queen’s Surf; the home was originally build in 1914 by WK Seering of International Harvester Co. Later (1971,) the property was condemned and Queen’s Surf and the neighboring Kodak Hula Show were evicted and the Waikīkī beachfront area was turned into a public park.

In addition, to the nightclub, there were coffee shops – lots of them – as well as other family-favorites. Spencecliff was renowned for taking care of its employees, many of whom served for decades.  Reportedly, each employee would receive personalized card and a birthday cake from the company bakery the day before their birthday, then were given the day off on their birthday.
Then their ownership in the restaurant operations came to an end.  In the mid-1980s, increased rents and high interest rates affected Spencecliff’s bottom line; on July 14, 1986, they sold the operation to the Japanese firm, Nittaku Enterprises Co, for $6-million. Unfortunately, the new owners didn’t have the same understanding/appreciation for the operations and it slowly disappeared.

Kay announced she would leave movies to live on the sugar plantation in Honolulu. In January 1942, it was announced Kay was pregnant and awaiting the stork in May. Kay gave birth to her daughter Katherine Weaver in May 1942. By July 1942, two months after the birth of her, she was pregnant again. Their second child, son William “Billy” Weaver, was born in 1943.

KAySutton7Sadly, the Weavers marriage was not to last, and they separated in 1944 and divorced in 1945. You want to know the reason? Because Kay was dating up a storm with Dan Topping, one of the infamous Topping brothers. He served in a navy capacity in Honolulu, they started socializing and the rest is history. Dan was then still married to Sonje Henie. Sonja was allegedly seeing Van Johnson (yeah, like that happened) on the side, and both wanted to get divorced – Sonja could marry Van, Dan could marry Kay.

After some ups and down, the couple were married In Florida in March 1946 and went on to honeymoon in Clearwater, in his father’s summer home. Now something about Dan Topping (a short excerpt from Wikipedia):

Daniel Reid Topping (June 11, 1912 – May 18, 1974) was a part owner and president of the New York Yankees baseball team from 1945 to 1964. Daniel Reid Topping was the son of Rhea Reid and Henry J. Topping. Rhea Reid, the daughter of Daniel G. Reid, known as the “Tinplate King” for his vast wealth in the tin industry, was the mother of three sons, Daniel Reid Topping, Henry J. Topping (1914), and John Reid Topping (1921). Daniel Topping, along with Del Webb and Larry MacPhail, purchased the Yankees for $2.8 million from the estate of the late Jacob Ruppert on January 25, 1945. MacPhail sold his share of the team to Topping and Webb in 1947, and the two sold controlling interest in the team to CBS in 1964, after which Topping remained as team president until 1966, when he sold his remaining stake in the Yankees.

Topping also was co-owner, along with John Simms Kelly, of the National Football League‘s Brooklyn Dodgers starting in 1931, eventually owning the team outright. By the mid-1940s, Topping wished to move his football team from Ebbets Field into the newer and larger Yankee Stadium. Tim Mara, owner of the New York Giants, who played in the Polo Grounds, held NFL territorial rights, and refused to permit this. Topping moved the team anyway, joining the newly formed All-America Football Conference. Topping’s team retained most of its players during the jump and became the football New York Yankees. The team was not one of the AAFC teams admitted to the NFL in 1950, and folded.

By November the papers knew that Kay was pregnant. Their daughter Rhea was born in 1947. The Toppings lived the high life for the next couple of years, enjoying a lavish home in Park Avenue, right next to Marilyn Monroe and Joe DiMaggio.

By 1948, their marriage was in trouble. The papers were full of gossip about their the shaky marital state. In January 1949, it was reported the have allegedly reached a settlement. By February, they were reconciled. It lasted until November 1951, when they separated for good. While I don’t know the full extent of the settlement, I do know that Kay got their Palm Beach home. Some sources claim that Topping was the love of Kay’s life.

Life went on for Kay and she dated Gary Cooper in February 1952, during his Palm Beach sojourn. We all know that Cooper was a deeply unhappy man during his post Patricia Neal years, drifting from town to town, from woman to woman, and I guess Kay didn’t amount to much on his plate. The Toppings divorce was made final in June 1952, in Florida. Whatever we can say about Topping and his marriage to Kay, his love of sports rubbed of and she wanted to operate her own baseball team. She tried to buy a West Palm Beach India baseball team in 1953. Kay falls from the newspaper radar from then on, but a few bits and pieces of information could still be found.

Tragically, Kay’s son William “Billy” was killed in a freak Tiger shark attack off the Mokulua Islands, Lanikai, Oahu in 1959.

She married Frederick Moulton Agler on September 13, 1963, in Grosse Point, Michigan. Moulton was born on August 3, 1907, in . Detroit, Michigan, to Mary Eldridge Alger and Frederick Moulton Alger. Let’s just list, in short, the most important posts Frederick held in his life:

KaySutton8Republican. Candidate for U.S. Representative from Michigan 14th District, 1936; served in the U.S. Navy during World War II; secretary of state of Michigan, 1947-52; Republican candidate for Governor of Michigan, 1950 (primary), 1952; U.S. Ambassador to Belgium, 1953-57.Presbyterian. Member, American Legion; Elks; Sons of the American Revolution; Veterans of Foreign Wars; Military Order of the World Wars; Freemasons.

In 1929, Frederick married Suzette de Marigny Dewey, daughter of Charles Schuveldt Dewey. The had three children: David Dewey Alger (born 1943), Marie Suzette de Marigny Alger Howard and Frederick Alger.

Kay and Frederick lived in his Grosse Point home until his death on January 5, 1967. Kay never remarried to continued to live in Grosse Point.

Katherine Alger died on May 1, 1988 in Grosse Point, Michigan.

Her former husband, Clifton Waver died on January 23, 1992.

Earlene Heath

22 Oct 1933 --- Original caption: Miss Earlene Heath displays the latest fad, "the gator garter and bracelet," a fad that the fair sex will not take too seriously at first. Miss Heath suggested this idea while playing with the baby alligators on her first trip to the Los Angeles Alligator Farm. --- Image by © Bettmann/CORBIS

Another chorus girl who tired and failed to do good in Tinsel Town 😦 Earlene Heath was a headstrong and determined woman who truly tried to make her best, but it’s hard to say did she give up too soon or just gave up a hopeless pursuit that would have gotten her nowhere. Anyway, she settled into domesticity after her Hollywood career was over.

EARLY LIFE

Earlene Marie Heath was born on May 1, 1914, in Dallas, Texas, to Earl Jarrell Heath and his wife, Annie Evelyn Newell. Both of her parents were natives of Texas – her father worked as a salesman, her mother was a housewife. She was the middle of three children and the only daughter – her older brother George Francis was born on November 19, 1910, her younger brother Earl Jarrel was born in 1918.

Earlene grew up and was educated in her birth town. After finishing business school, she became the secretary of an oilman (we are in Texas after all!). She was a passionate dancer but only did it for fun (as a hobby) and had no plans to go to Hollywood nor become an actress. However, a tiff with her boyfriend at the time changed all that. One day he told her that for a woman, being a dancer and actress o the screen is an unsuitable choice of vocation, adding that he would never let her be an actress if she were his wife. Stubborn to the bone and with a love for the theatrics, Earlene wanted to prove him wrong under any circumstance. Boldly she went to Denver, Colorado, to find work in the very field he so vehemently disliked. She got a job with the Tabor Stock Co., and did hard work for six months. With precious stage experience under her belt, Earlene felt assured enough to try Hollywood. Unfortunately, Hollywood is a closed gate community and since Earlene did not know an insider, no work came her way. She took any odd jobs she could and went to dramatic school on the side, hoping for her big break.

Her big break came after she was crowned Miss Ocean Park in August 1933. She became a member of the prestigious David Gould troupe, and she finally entered Hollywood.

CAREER

As a dancer turned actress, Earlene appeared as an uncredited chorus girl during most of her early career. George White’s Scandals was the perfect film where tons of gorgeous chorines can be featured without a valid reason. What can I say, I wrote about this movie so many times, and we all know the drift. Flimsy story but loads of good music and dancing sequences. Not the kind of movie I enjoy, but great escapism non the less.

Stand Up and Cheer! is a movie in the same vein. No story, just music music and dancing dancing! Warner Baxter plays a Broadway producer who is appointed by the U.S. president as secretary of amusement to cheer up the country. Tough job, but Warners got loads of talent to help him. Just name them: James Dunn, Madge Evans, John Boles (no talent for that one, just a wooden expression)… Shirley Temple became an overnight sensation thanks to this movie. I’m the first to tell you I don’t like “kiddie” movies (where the under-10-years-old kid is the main character, everything is sweetness and light, the script is lightweight and so on) and find most child actors uninteresting, but Shirley had something and it shone on the screen. While I’ll never watch her movies, I must admit she was a singular phenomena in Hollywood history.

Earlene_Heath_2Folies Bergère de Paris is a pure delight. Again, if you want some deep movie that’ll make you think, look away. Want some simple, elegant fun – walk this way! Maurice Chevalier, everybody favourite French cad, plays dual roles – one a nightclub singer, other a stiff upper lip banker, which creates havoc in his love life. Chevalier was a limited talent, but very good at what he did – nobody played debonair, charming French like he did – and this movie was tailor made to show off all his strong spots. He gets wonderful support from Merle Oberon and Ann Southern.

Reckless gets us into Jean Harlow territory. Tsis is one of Harlow’s best movies, based on the life story of Libby Holman (interesting woman, read more about her here). What starts as a breezy, fluffy love story turns into a serious drama dealing with issues like domestic abuse, fragile mental health and so on. Harlow is at top from here – these roles suited her like a glove. Much like Chevalier, she was limited, but boy, what she did well she did perfect! Franchot Tone, a wonderful actor wasted in so many movies, actually has something to chew on here. William Powell, Harlow’s real life lover, is the third wheel but decent enough. Earlene appears as one fo the chorus girls. Recommended!

Redheads on Parade is a totally forgotten movie today, so lets assume it made no ripples back when it was released in 1935. And now for the Three Stooges! Despite the fact that they appeared in the same movies before, with Healthy, Wealthy and Dumb Earlene than had the honour of having a role in a proper Stooges short. Wikipedia has a page about the short:

Curly wins $50,000 from writing a catchy jingle for a radio contest. The boys quickly spend their loot, and check in at the Hotel Costa Plente. Their suite is furnished with many expensive items which they systematically destroy. In the process, three gold diggers connive their way into the boys’ room, under the guise that they are three rich widows looking to remarry. This works perfectly, as Curly quickly discovers that all the tax deductions reduce his winnings to a minuscule $4.85. The boys hastily agree to marry the ladies, who soon find out the Stooges are broke and give them what for.

Sounds funny? It does! So, Earlene appeared in a pretty good Three Stooges short, and this is the highlight of her brief and unsatisfying career.

Earlene took some time off to raise her children, then came back in 1941 in Caught in the Draft. To put is short: It’s a Bob Hope comedy. If you like Bob Hope comedies, there is everything going for this movie. If you don’t, don’t come close. Comedy is a tricky subject to write about, since it’s so “subjective”, so as a reviewer said, one mans meat is another man’s poison. To some, Hope is the best of the best of classic Hollywood comedy, for others he’s a raving lunatic doing stupid movies. Here, Hope tries to escape a military draft by marrying a colonel’s daughter (nice plan Bob!) and then enlisting by mistake! Eddie Bracken and Lynne Overman are there for support and Dorothy Lamour is the love interest. I’m pretty much lukewarm about Hope – there are better, there are worse, but as far as Bob Hope movies go, this is solid.

Earlene ended her film career with Kiss the Boys Goodbye, a Mary Martin vehicle. Martin was a great musical theater star, but her “magic” never translated to screen properly and she never became anything notable in Hollywood. The movie itself is a decent enough musical about the search for an authentic southern belle to replace a movie diva. Don Ameche is as good as always in the male lead. Also take note of Oscar Levant!

Earlene faded into domestic obscurity afterwards.

PRIVATE LIFE

Earlene long ditched the boyfriend who so enraged her she decided to try a serious acting career by the time she actually came to Hollywood, so I guess he never reaped the fruits of his “success”. She had found a more suitable man who not only understood her passion for acting and dancing, but shared it. Earlene married Hollywood director Otis E. Garrett on December 20, 1935 in Los Angeles. She was 21, he was 30. Garrett was born on March 29, 1905 in Washington State, to George Garrett and Helen Gregory Otis. He came to California in 1930 and started working in the film industry as an editor and scriptwriter.

The marriage was a tumultuous one from the start. They separated for the first time in December 1936, not ever a year after the wedding took place. Allegedly Earlene went to New York for a prolonged stage appearance and decided that her marriage was not worth saving. However, a small “unexpected factor” appeared – Earlene was pregnant. For the sake of their unborn child, the Garretts reconciled.

The Their son, Anthony Otis Garrett was born on July 31, 1937, in Los Angeles.  As we all expected, the birth of little Anthony did little to pacify his parents marriage. She sued her husband for divorce in February 1938. She claimed her woke her up when he came home late from parties, She would protest this atrocious behaviour, and he would swear at her. Yeah folks, this was Earlene’s grounds for divorce. I can’t imagine how the judge felt, hearing these stories. Poor, poor judge…

EarleneHeath3Then, the story repeated itself. By April 1938, Earlene was pregnant again and it was again decided to give the marriage a try.  Their daughter, Judith, was born on January 18, 1939. After little Judy made her appearance, did her parents marriage go into a new, revitalising phase? Guess what? NO! Surprise, surprise, it failed. Earlene was involved in a traffic incident in May, just proving how distressed she was. It was time to end things. The gears of divorce were working again.

In July 1939, she was awarded with 150$ a month temporary alimony. In September 1939, she sued her former husband for not paying his alimony, but he claimed she broke the rules of the settlement by living with her mother. This much was true – Earlene was living with her parents, two children and younger brother in Beverly Hills in 1940. It seems the drama continued.

I was quite shocked when I saw that Garrett died on March 24, 1941, less than two years after this. I have no idea what happened to him, nor how good/bad his relationship to Earlene was by that time – did they make up and enjoy a civil relationship, at least for the sake of their children? So many unanswered questions…

Life goes on and so Earlene moved on. She married Robert Colomb in 1943, not long after catching the bouquet at the wedding of Dorothy Lamour and William Ross Howard. Robert James Colomb was born on August 9, 1904, in Chicago, Illinois. He worked as a property developer in his birth town before moving to Los Angeles, California to try his luck in the real estate boom. Their daughter, Geraldine Marie Colomb was born on February 25, 1947, in Los Angeles. Earlene enjoyed a quiet life outside the limelight with her husband and children.

Earlene Colomb died on May 31, 1958, in San Louis Obispo, California, at the age of 44. Sadly, none of the Heath siblings lived to be over 55 years old – her brother George died the same year as her, on September 12, 1958 (at the age of 47), and her younger brother Earl died in 1978, at the age of 55. Her father died in 1957, her mother in 1966.

Her widower Robert Colomb died on August 14, 1984 in Ventura, California.