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Friday, April 10, 2015

Lili Damita


"Marriage is a career itself. It requires full-time. When I do fall in love the career must go." ~ Lili

Lili Damita was born Liliane Marie Madeleine Carré on July 10, 1904, in Blaye, France. As a child she studied ballet and attended school in several different countries. By the age of sixteen she was working as a professional model and dancer. In 1921 she won a beauty contest and was offered her first acting role. She appeared in more than a dozen silent films made in Europe. Lili married Hungarian director Michael Curtiz in 1925. They divorced just a year later. Producer Samuel Goldwyn saw Lili and offered her a part in the 1928 romantic adventure The Rescue. American audiences fell in love with the exotic beauty nicknamed "Tiger Lil". She appeared in a string of box office successes including The Cock-Eyed World and This Is The Night. Despite her thick accent she was easily able to make the transition to talkies. Lili made headlines when she became engaged to Prince Ferdinand of Prussia but the couple never married. She was also bi-sexual and enjoyed several affairs with women. In 1935 Lili married actor Errol Flynn and decided to retire from the screen.



Her final role was in the 1938 French film Escadrille of Chance. Errol quickly became a superstar and Lili was now primarily known as his wife. The couple had a son, Sean, in 1940 but their marriage was tumultuous. Errol had many affairs and Lili divorced him in 1942. They would spend years fighting over custody and child support. Lili continued to stay out of the spotlight and focused on raising her son. In 1962 she married dairy farmer Allen R. Loomis and began living part-time in Iowa. Tragedy struck in 1970 when her son Sean went missing during a trip to Cambodia. Lili spent fourteen years and millions of dollars searching for him but he was never found. Sean Flynn was declared legally dead in 1984. By this time Lili was divorced from Allen and suffering from Alzheimer's disease. She died on March 21, 1994 in Palm Beach, Florida at the age of eighty-nine. Lili is buried at Oakland Cemetery in Fort Dodge, Iowa. The epitaph on her tombstone reads "She touched so many lives, brightened so many days."

~ Original biography by Elizabeth Ann 2015


 Lili and Errol Flynn





 An autographed photo (from my collection)

Martha Raye's Dress From Four Jills In A Jeep


In 2015 I purchased a dress Martha Raye wore in Four Jills In A Jeep. I bought it from actress Debbie Reynolds. It was designed by Yvonne Wood. Martha played herself in the Four Jills In A Jeep. Her costars were Carole Landis, Kay Francis, and Mitzi Mayfair.







Here is a clip of Martha wearing the dress ...

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Vera-Ellen


"I don't remember if I liked dancing because I was good at it, or if I was good at it because I liked it. Maybe a little of both." ~ Vera-Ellen

Vera-Ellen was born Vera Ellen Westmeier Rohe on February 16, 1921 in Norwood, Ohio. She began dancing when she was a child and made her Broadway debut at the age of eighteen. In 1941 she married dancer Robert Hightower. Although she was only five feet four inches she became one of the dancing Rockettes at Radio City Musical Hall. Producer Samuel Goldwyn saw her and gave her a leading role in the 1945 musical Wonder Man. The following year she divorced her husband. Vera-Ellen's career quickly took off and she appeared in several Technicolor musicals. She costarred with Gene Kelly in On The Town and with Fred Astaire Three Little Worlds. Privately she was suffering from anorexia and was becoming increasingly thin. There were even rumors that her neck had to be covered during filming because she looked so frail.




She married millionaire Victor Rothschild in 1954. That same year she starred in White Christmas which would become her biggest success. By the late 1950s her career had slowed down and she appeared in variety shows like The Colgate Comedy Hour. Her last film was the 1957 musical Let's Be Happy. She gave birth to a daughter Victoria Ellen in 1963. Tragically the baby died from SIDS when she was just three months old. Vera-Ellen became very depressed and her marriage soon ended. As she grew older she suffered from severe arthritis and was no longer able to dance. She became reclusive and rarely left her home. In a rare 1977 interview she said " I'm retired. I stopped when I was ahead. I don't need my work anymore, and I don't need the applause.". At the age of sixty she diagnosed with cancer. She died from the disease on August 30, 1981. Vera-Ellen is buried with her infant daughter at Glen Haven Memorial Park in Los Angeles, California.

~ Original biography by Elizabeth Ann 2015


 


With her mother



Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Nelson Eddy's Letter To Jeanette MacDonald


I recently obtained a rare handwritten letter Nelson Eddy sent to Jeanette MacDonald in November 1934. Nelson and Jeanette made eight musicals together and became known as "America's Singing Sweethearts". Off screen the couple had a passionate romance that lasted for decades. This letter was written by Nelson a month before they started filming their first movie Naughty Marietta.


 Here is the text of the letter ...

Dear Miss McDonald, Thank you for the wire. It was terribly sweet of you and I appreciate it more than I can tell you. One day I hope to get up courage enough to tell you I think you're the grandest person in the world. Very gratefully yours, Nelson Eddy



This is my favorite Nelson and Jeanette duet ...

Friday, April 3, 2015

Marion Aye (Mack Sennett Bathing Beauty)


"A man outside the studio is far more apt to remain the lover. For to him you can preserve the glamour of the screen" ~ Marion

Marion Aye was born Maryon Eloise Aye on April 5, 1903 in Chicago, Illinois. Her father was a lawyer who moved the family to California. When she was fifteen Marion lied about her age to elope with her older boyfriend Sherman Plaskett. Sadly he passed away just a year later. While walking on the beach in a bathing suit Marion was discovered by producer Mack Sennett. She became one of his bathing beauties and in 1919 she made her film debut in the comedy short Hearts And Flowers. Marion appeared in more than a dozen films including Montana Bill and The Weak-End Party. In 1922 she was chosen to be one of the Wampas baby stars along with Colleen Moore and Lois Wilson. The following year she signed a five year contract with a Hollywood production company. Marion was the first actress to sign a contract with a morality clause in it. She joked that she didn't mind because her only bad habit was dipping her "bread in the chicken gravy"
 


Her second marriage, to press agent Harry Wilson, ended in 1924 and she fought with him in court over spousal support. Marion seemed destined for stardom but her career never took off. Her last movie was the 1926 comedy Irene. She married comedian Robert Forester in 1936. Unfortunately she suffered from psychiatric problems and made several suicide attempts. In 1951 tried to make a comeback and auditioned for a role on television. When she didn't get the part she became despondent. Her depression got worse when her mother passed Eloise away. On July 10, 1951 Marion checked into a Culver City motel and swallowed a large amount of poison. She was found semi-conscious but tragically she died eleven days later at the age of forty-eight. Her husband later told reporters that he never took her threats of suicide seriously. Marion was buried next to her mother at Forest Lawn Memorial Park in Glendale, California.

~ Original biography by Elizabeth Ann 2014


Marion (center) with other bathing beauties

 







Margaret Roach


Margaret Roach was born on March 21, 1921 in Los Angeles, California. Her father was movie producer Hal Roach. When she was a teenager Margaret worked in the theater and sang at nightclubs. She changed her name to Diane Rochelle and made her film debut in the 1938 comedy Swiss Miss. Her father didn't want her to be an actress and initially refused to help her. However in 1940 he cast her in his film Road Show. When the press called Margaret "plump" she went to a sanitarium to lose weight. In 1941 she announced her engagement to Geoffrey Steele but they broke up before the wedding. The following year she married Lieutenant E.L. Hinton. After her mother's death Margaret became estranged from her father.

Carole Landis and Margaret


She continued to get small roles in films like Niagara Falls and Test Tube Babies. Margaret divorced E.L. and married actor and writer Robert Livingston in 1947. The couple had one son named Addison. Although she made more than a dozen films Margaret never became a leading lady. She retired after appearing in the 1949 crime drama The Devil's Sleep. Her marriage to Robert ended after four years. Sadly on November 25, 1964 Margaret passed away at the young age of forty-three. She was buried near her mother at Holy Cross cemetery in Los Angeles. Margaret's son Addison Randall also became an actor.

~ Original biography by Elizabeth Ann 2014


Margaret with her brother and father Hal Roach


John Hubbard, Margaret, and Carole Landis

 
 
Patsy Kelly, Margaret, and Adolphe Menjou
 
With Charles Butterworth

With William Gargan


Thursday, April 2, 2015

Jeanette MacDonald and Nelson Eddy's Love Story

 

Jeanette MacDonald and Nelson Eddy had one of Hollywood greatest and most tragic love stories. They met in 1934 when MGM paired the two stars in the musical Naughty Marietta. The movie was a hit and audiences instantly fell in love with the singing duo. Off screen Nelson and Jeanette began a passionate affair. They continued to make hit movies together but kept their real life romance a secret at the insistence of MGM president Louis B. Mayer. Sadly the couple would not end up living happily ever after.


 
By 1938 they had broken up and both were married to other people. Jeanette's husband Gene Raymond was rumored to be gay while Nelson's wife Ann suffered from mental problems. Eventually Nelson and Jeanette resumed their passionate love affair. Jeanette became pregnant several times but tragically she lost the babies. Although they still loved each other neither was ever willing to get a divorce. When Jeanette died in 1965 Nelson was heartbroken. He passed away just two years later.
 


A video of Nelson at Jeanette's funeral ...



 





To learn more about Jeanette and Nelson's love story please visit MacEddy.com