Friday, May 27, 2016

Phyllis Barry (1930s Starlet)

Phyllis Barry was born Gertrude Hillyard on December 7, 1908, in Leeds, England. She was a gifted dancer and at the age of fourteen she joined an Australian cabaret troupe. Phyllis starred in many stage musicals including No No Nannette and Lady Be Good. She made her film debut in the 1925 Australian film Painted Daughters. At the time her stage name was Phyllis DuBarry. In 1930 she toured America in a production of Rio Rita. Prodicer Samuel Goldwyn saw her on stage and offered her a supporting role in the film Cynara starring Kay Francis. Unfortunately the movie flopped and her performance got mixed reviews. She married vaudeville performer Albert Nordlund (also known as Al Nord) in 1932.

The following year she got the lead role in the comedy What - No Beer? opposite Buster Keaton. Phyllis and Albert had a rocky marriage and they separated several times. She divorced him in 1936 and said "he told me he didn't think my career meant anything".  Soon after she married decorator Gilbert M. Caldwell. She continued to make movies but by 1939 her career had stalled. Phyllis had a bit part in the drama Waterloo Bridge and she appeared in The Three Stooges short Three Little Sew and Sews. Her last film role was playing a waitress in the 1947 drama Love From A Stranger. Phyllis and her husband moved to a small house in West Hollywood. She became increasingly depressed about her failed Hollywood career. On July 1, 1954 she committed suicide by taking an overdose of medication. Phyllis was only forty-five years old.

With Buster Keaton

With Ronald Colman

Friday, May 13, 2016

Lucille Ricksen (Child Star)

Lucille Ricksen was born Ingeborg Erickson on August 22, 1910, in Chicago, Illinois. She worked as a child model and made her film debut at the age of five. Her parents separated and her mother took her to Hollywood in 1920. Ten year old Lucille was offered a contract with Samuel Goldwyn and starred in a series of short films. She often had to work long hours but she always said she was having fun. In 1922 she starred opposite Marie Prevost in The Married Flapper. The following year Lucille was given a starring role in the drama The Rendevous. Although she was only thirteen the studio lied and said she was actually sixteen. The press called her "the youngest leading lady in movies". Lucille developed a close relationship with producer Sydney Chaplin (brother of Charlie Chaplin) who was twenty-five years older than her. She became one of Hollywood busiest starlets and was chosen as one of the WAMPAS Baby Stars.

In 1924 she made ten films including Vanity's Price, The Galloping Fish, and The Valley Of The Wolf. Unfortunately the fourteen year old started suffering from exhaustion and malnutrition. She was diagnosed with tuberculosis and became bedridden. Lucille's mother kept a bedside vigil but the stress caused her to have a fatal heart attack. Following her mother's death Lucille was cared for by family friends including actress Lois Wilson. During one of her conscious moments Lucille said "Mother wouldn't want me - die - Mother said - Wonderful future - Going to do big things - Won't die! I won't!" Sadly on March 13, 1925 she passed away from complications of tuberculosis. Lucille was only fourteen years old. There were rumors that her death had actually been caused by a botched abortion. Lucille was cremated and she was buried with her mother at Forest Lawn in Glendale, California. Her final film, The Denial, came out ten days after her death.

Saturday, May 7, 2016

Bella Darvi (1950s Starlet)

"I had the usual experiences of hunger and humiliation and I try not to remember them or discuss them although, of course, I shall never forget them." ~ Bella

Bella Darvi was born Bajla Wegier on October 23, 1928, in Sosnowiec, Poland. She was Jewish and tragically her entire family was jailed during World War 2. One of her brothers died in a concentration camp. Bella was freed when she was fourteen years old. She moved to Paris, France where she began working as a nurse. In 1950 Bella married wealthy businessman Alban Calvalcade. The couple spent their time traveling through Europe and attending fashion shows. Bella was discovered by Virginia Zanuck, the wife of Fox President Darryl Zanuck. She signed a contract with Fox and made her film debut in the 1954 drama Hell and High Water. Bella divorced her husband and moved in with the Zanuck's in Los Angeles. Soon after Bella and Darryl Zanuck started having and affair and he left his wife to be with her. Darryl ended the relationship when he found out Bella was

Bella was given high profile roles in The Egyptian and The Racers but her movie career stalled because of her strong accent. She returned to France where she appeared in a few low budget European films. Bella had romances with Aly Khan and Jeanne-Pierre Aumont, the widow of Maria Montez. She married Claude Rouas, a waiter from San Francisco, in 1960. They divorced a year later. By this time Bella was bankrupt and had a serious gambling problem. She was forced to sell all her clothes and jewelry. Her former lover Darryl Zanuck gave her money to help pay off her gambling debts. In 1964 she opened a cafe in Paris. Bella continued to struggle financially and attempted suicide several times. On September 11, 1971 Bella committed suicide in her Monte Carlo apartment by gas poisoning. Unfortunately her body was not discovered for ten days. She was only forty-two years old. Bella was buried at The City Of Paris Cemetery in France.

 With Darryl Zanuck

Saturday, April 16, 2016

Faith Bacon (Burlesque Dancer)

"I want a man -  a man to love! I want a husband, a home, a kitchen, and what goes with it." ~ Faith

Faith Bacon was born Francis Yvonne Bacon on July 19, 1910 in Los Angeles, California. She was an only child and her parents divorced when she was young. Faith dreamed of becoming a doctor but she decided to pursue a show business career instead. Although she had no formal dance training she moved to Paris and started dancing in burlesque shows. In 1928 she went to Broadway and starred in Earl Carroll's Vanities. Faith became famous doing a racy "fan dance" in which she appeared nude on stage covered only by ostrich feathers. She made headlines in 1930 when she was arrested for performing an "indecent show". Faith was given a starring role in The Ziegfeld Follies and she was one of the featured attractions at the 1933 World's Fair. Florenz Ziegfeld called her the "most beautiful woman in the world". When rival dancer Sally Rand starting doing her own fan dance Faith sued her claiming she had stolen the idea. Faith told reporters that her dream was to retire and start a family. She married songwriter Sanford H. Dickinson but the couple separated.

In 1936 Faith was seriously injured when she fell during a performance. She sued the owners of the show for $100,000 although she eventually settled the case for much less. Faith got a small part in the 1938 drama Prison Train. It would be her only film role. She was arrested in 1939 for disorderly conduct after staging a nude publicity stunt on Park Avenue. All the bad press hurt her reputation and by the time she was thirty her career was over. Faith would spend the next decade dancing in strip clubs and carnivals across the country. She also danced semi-nude in some short films. In June of 1948 she suffered a nervous breakdown after suing a carnival owner for unpaid wages. A few years later she was homeless and living on the streets of Seattle. She attempted suicide in 1954 by overdosing on sleeping pills. Faith decided to move to Chicago and tried to find work. She lived in a small hotel room with a friend. On September 26, 1956 Faith committed suicide by jumping out her third story window. She was only forty-six years old. Faith was buried at Wunder's Cemetery in Chicago, Illinois.

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Anny Ahlers (German Actress)

 Anny Ahlers was born on December 21, 1907 in Hamburg Germany. At the age of four she began her career performing in the circus. When she was a teenager Anny studied ballet and singing. In 1928 she made her film debut in the German film Casanova. She had a beautiful voice and starred in successful operettas in Berlin and Vienna. Audiences loved her and she quickly became one of Europe's most popular stars. Anny landed leading roles in the films True Jacob and The Company's In Love. She went to London in 1932 to star in the musical The DuBarry. Although she did not speak English her singing won rave reviews. Critics called her "vivacious" and said she was destined for Hollywood stardom. She fell in love with the show's producer Stanley Scott but their romance didn't last.

During a performance in September of 1932 she had a nervous breakdown on stage. The show closed while she recovered at a seaside resort. Rumors began that she had developed an addiction to morphine and sleeping pills. She started dating Sir Merrik Burrell, a recently divorced millionaire. He gave her an emerald ring and commissioned a portrait of her from artist Philip Alexius de Laszlo. By the Spring of 1933 Anny was suffering from tuberculosis and had severe insomnia. On March 14, 1933 she died after falling from her second floor balcony. Anny broke her neck and was killed instantly. She was only twenty-five years old. Her maid told reporters that Anny was a sleepwalker and might have fallen. However the coroner ruled that her death was a suicide. She was cremated and her ashes were buried in Hamburg. Merrik was given a lock of her red hair which he kept for the rest of his life.

Anny Sings I Give My Heart

Friday, March 18, 2016

Let's Celebrate Easter

Celebrate Easter with some of our favorite classic beauties ...

 Jeanette Loff

 Alice White and Bernice Claire

 Colleen Moore

 Doris Dawson, Estelle Bradley, June Collyer, and Ethlyne Clair

Jane Winton

 Jean Parker

Monday, March 7, 2016

Eugenia Gilbert (1920s Starlet)

  "I like an honest-to-God business man - not a dancing sheik. It would be pleasant if he could remember that courtesy counts." ~ Eugenia

Eugenia Gilbert was born Eugenia Knapp on November 18, 1902 in East Orange, New Jersey. She attended high school in New York City and went to Mallborough College in Los Angeles. When her father became ill she quit school and got a job as a dancer. She made her acting debut in the 1920 short film Paul's Peril. Eugenia began entering beauty pageants and in 1923 she won the title of Miss Los Angeles. She became one of Mack Sennett's bathing beauties and he signed her to a long term film contract. Eugenia starred in dozens of comedies including A Rainy Night, Sinners In Silk, and A Broadway Butterfly (she was often credited as Eugenie Gilbert).

In 1927 she starred in the action serial The Crimson Flash. She was also Leo Mallory's leading lady in three Westerns. Eugenia was considered one of the most versatile starlets in Hollywood. In her spare time she liked to go to a cabin she bought in the mountains. Although she made more than sixty films she never became a major star. At the age of twenty-seven Eugenia decided to quit making movies. Her final film was the 1929 comedy Courtin' Wildcats. During the 1930s she worked as a model in fashion shows. She eventually got married and changed her last name to Enders. Eugenia spent her final years living in Santa Monica. She died from heart failure on December 8, 1978 and was cremated.

Eugenia (second from right) with Rudolph Valentino

Eugenia Gilbert and Ruth Hiatt

 With Charley Chase