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Saturday, May 23, 2015

Nancy Carroll


"I didn't really care about money; all I wanted was to be famous and get fans' letters." ~ Nancy

Nancy Carroll was born Ann Veronica Lahiff on November 19, 1903 in New York City. She was the youngest of seven children. When she was a teenager she and her sister began performing in local talent competitions. Nancy was a gifted dancer and appeared in several Broadway musicals. In 1925 she married writer Jack Kirkland and had a daughter named Patricia. Nancy made her film debut in the 1927 comedy Ladies Must Dress and was offered a contract with Paramount. She starred in a string of successful talkies including The Shopworn Angel and Close Harmony. In 1930 she was nominated for Academy Award for her role in Devil's Holiday. That same year her marriage Jack to ended. After a brief affair with Joseph P. Kennedy she married Francis Bolton Mallory, a Life magazine editor. Their marriage lasted only three years. Although Nancy was one of Hollywood's most popular actresses she had developed a reputation for being difficult. Paramount released her from her contract in 1933.



Nancy continued to make movies but she was no longer an A-list star. She played supporting roles in That Certain Age and There Goes My Heart. Unhappy with the way her career was going she decided to quit making movies in 1938. She returned to the stage and starred in the Broadway show For Heaven's Sake Mother. During the 1950s Nancy made guest appearances on numerous television shows. She also costarred with her daughter, Patricia Kirkland, in the series The Egg And I. Nancy married international businessman C.H. "Jappe" Groen in 1953. The couple split their time between Mexico and Indonesia. At the age of  fifty-nine Nancy was cast in the play Never Too Late. It was a success and she toured with the show for two years. On the evening August 6, 1965 she didn't show up for her performance. Tragically she was found dead in her New York apartment. Nancy had died of an aneurism at the age of sixty-one. She was buried with her parents at Calvary Cemetery in Queens, New York.

~ Original biography by Elizabeth Ann 2015









An autograph (from my personal collection)

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Ruby Blaine (1920s Starlet)


Ruby Blaine was born on August 27, 1903, in Hutchinson, Kansas. When she was a child her family moved to Colorado. She loved riding horses and competed in a rodeo when she was sixteen. After winning a beauty contest she moved to New York City to become an actress. Ruby made her film debut in the 1925 drama The Midnight Girl. Although her part was small she got positive reviews. Mutual Film Company announced she would star in the The Bobbed Hair Bandit but the film was never made. Producer D.W. Griffith cast Ruby in The Sorrow Of Satan and helped her get a contract at Paramount. For a brief time she was engaged to her agent Frank Orsatti.
 

 
Ruby appeared in the movies The Great Gatsby and Bitter Apples but she never became a major star. Many magazine writers said Ruby resembled actress Norma Shearer. She hoped that dying her hair blonde would help her career. In 1928 she began working at Hal Roach's studio. She appeared in three comedy shorts including Two Tars with Laurel and Hardy. Ruby made her last film at the age of twenty-five. She married stockbroker Irving Weinberg but they divorced in 1933. Irving would later marry actress Betty Compson. Ruby continued to live in Manhattan where she worked as a commercial model. She spent her later years out of the spotlight and eventually moved to White Plains, New York. She passed away in May of 1976 at the age of seventy-two.
 
~ Original biography by Elizabeth Ann 2015
 
 
 Oliver Hardy, Ruby and Thelma Hill



 

Thursday, April 30, 2015

Barbara La Marr


"I don't get along so well with women but most men seem to find me reasonably entertaining."  ~ Barbara

Barbara La Marr was born Reatha Dale Watson on July 28, 1896, in Yakima, Washington. She was adopted when she was a month old and her new family took her to California. At the age of fourteen Barbara was arrested for working as a burlesque dancer. The judge said she was "a girl who was too beautiful" (this would later become her nickname). In 1913 she married rancher Jack Lytell. Tragically he died of pneumonia just a few weeks after their wedding. She married Lawrence Converse in 1914 but it was annulled when she found out he already had a wife. Barbara moved to New York City and began writing screenplays for Fox. She married Phil Ainsworth, a dancer, in 1916. Barbara left him after he was jailed for writing bad checks. Her fourth marriage, to actor Ben Deeley, also ended in divorce. In 1920 she made her film debut in the drama Harriet And The Piper. She appeared in many hit movies including The Nut with Douglas Fairbanks and The Prisoner Of Zenda with Ramon Novarro. By 1922 Barbara was one of Hollywood's top stars and she was earning more than $6,000 a week.



Unfortunately her hard-partying lifestyle created more headlines than her films did. She had an ill-fated romance with John Gilbert and became addicted to morphine after injuring her ankle. There were also rumors that she had an eating disorder. In 1923 she married actor Jack Dougherty. Soon after the couple announced they had adopted a son. Barbara was now using cocaine and drinking heavily. She proudly told reporters that she only slept two hours a night. Her drug use hurt her career and she lost her contract with MGM. She signed with First National and made three movies in 1925. Barbara's health began to decline and she developed tuberculosis and nephritis. On January 30, 1926 she died at the young age of twenty-nine. Her final film, The Girl From Montmartre, was released the next day. Barbara was buried at Hollywood Forever cemetery. Thousands of fans attended her funeral. Years after her death it was revealed that  she had secretly given birth to her "adopted" son in 1923. Barbara's close friend Zasu Pitts raised him.

~ Original biography by Elizabeth Ann 2015

 Barbara shortly before her death







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.

She was sometimes credited as "Lily Damita"


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