A tribute to classic actresses, silent beauties, and forgotten starlets including ...
Linda Darnell, Betty Grable, Jayne Mansfield, Paulette Goddard, Jean Harlow, Marion Davies, Bette Davis, Joan Crawford, Marilyn Monroe, Jeanette MacDonald, Lana Turner, Ava Gardner, Lucille Ball, Carole Lombard, Judy Garland, Norma Shearer, and Clara Bow
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
"In Hollywood we live like small-town folks. Early to bed early to rise and you make all the best pictures." ~ Phyllis
Phyllis Haver was born Phyllis O'Haver on January 6, 1899, in Douglas, Kansas. When she was a child her family moved to California. Young Phyllis got a job playing piano at a local movie theater. Producer Mack Sennett saw her and she was hired to be one of his bathing beauties. Between 1916 and 1920 Phyllis appeared in more than thirty-five short films. With her curvy figure and blonde hair she quickly became one of the most popular bathing beauties. Eventually she left Mack Sennett's compact and signed a contract with Cecil B. Demille. Phyllis costarred with Olive Borden in Fig Leaves and with Victor McLaglen in What Price Glory. She also won rave reviews for her performance as Roxie Hart in the 1927 film Chicago. In 1929 Phyllis married millionaire William Seeman.
Although she was at the peak of her career she decided to retire from acting. She and William moved into an eleven room penthouse in New York City. Phyllis said she loved being a wife and never wanted to return to Hollywood. Sadly after sixteen years of marriage she and William divorced. The couple had no children. As she grew older Phylis became more reclusive. She lived in a large house in Connecticut and rarely had visitors. Her only companion was her longtime housekeeper. She reportedly made several suicide attempts and was devastated when her former boss Mack Sennett died. On November 19, 1960 sixty-one year old Phyllis took her own life with an overdose of barbiturates. She was found in her bed fully dressed and wearing make-up. Phyllis was buried at Grassy Hills cemetery in Falls Village, Connecticut.
~ Original biography by Elizabeth Ann 2014
Phyllis and William Seeman
Phyllis and Olive Borden
An autographed photo (from my personal collection)
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".
Marion (center) with other bathing beauties
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.
"A sex symbol is a heavy load to carry when one is tired, hurt and bewildered." ~ Clara
Clara Gordon Bow was on born July 29, 1905, in
Brooklyn, New York. Her nightmare childhood included an alcoholic father who sexually abused her and an insane mother who once tried to kill her. When she was sixteen Clara entered a a contest in
Motion Picture magazine and won a screen test. She landed a few small roles and was chosen as a Wampas Baby Star. In 1927 she played a carefree flapper in the comedy It. The film made
her a superstar and from then on she was known as "The It Girl". She appeared in many successful movies including The Plastic Age, Wings, and Mantrap. By 1929 Clara was the
top female box-office star in the country and she was getting forty-five thousand fan letters a month. When the talkies started she was worried about her thick Brooklyn accent but audiences loved her voice. Although Clara earned more than five thousand dollars a week she lived in a
seven-room bungalow in Beverly Hills. She
hated going to Hollywood events and preferred to stay home and play
poker. Clara's image as a sex symbol and her off screen romances made her the most gossiped about woman
in Hollywood. Among her many lovers were actors Gary Cooper, Fredric
March, Gilbert Roland, Bela Lugosi, and director Victor Fleming.
In 1930 Clara's secretary, Daisy DeVoe, was put on trial for stealing from her. Daisy testified that Clara was involved in orgies and bestiality.
Although these stories were false her reputation was ruined. Shortly
after the trial Clara suffered a nervous breakdown. She finally found happiness when she married actor
Rex Bell in 1931. Tired
of Hollywood she decided to stop making movies. Her final film was the
1933 drama Hoopla. Clara and Rex moved to Nevada and had two sons. They also opened a restaurant in
Hollywood called "The It Cafe". Clara suffered from chronic insomnia and
was eventually diagnosed with schizophrenia. In 1944 she attempted suicide by
swallowing a bottle of pills. As she got older Clara became reclusive
and rarely left her home. She turned down a lucrative offer
to write her autobiography because she didn't want to embarrass her
family. After her husband Rex died from a heart attack in 1962 she moved to Culver City,
California. On the evening of September 26, 1965 Clara watched the film
The Virginian on television. It was directed by her former fiance
Victor Fleming and starred her former lover Gary Cooper. Later that
night Clara died from a heart attack. She is buried next to Rex at
Forest Lawn Memorial Park in Glendale, California.
"I do not care what is printed about me, as long as it's the truth." ~ Lupe Lupe Velez was born Maria Guadalupe Velez on July 18, 1908 in San Luis Potosi, Mexico. She was such a toublesome child that at the age of thirteen her parents sent her to a convent. When her father went missing during the Mexican revolution she returned home to help support her family. In 1925 Lupe began dancing professionally and quickly became a popular stage star. After appearing in several Hal Roach comedy shorts she got her big break when she was cast opposite Douglas Fairbanks in The Gaucho. She was offered a contract at United Atists and was named one of the Wampas Baby Stars of 1928. Lupe's performances in The Wolf Song and Tiger Rose helped make her Hollywood's most successful Latin actress. She became known for playing fiery, exotic characters and was nicknamed "The Hot Tamale". Her high profile romances with John Gilbert, Clark Gable, and Gary Cooper kept her name in the gossip columns. In 1933 she married Olympic athlete and actor Johnny Weissmuller. They had a stormy relationship and divorced after five years together. Lupe became frustrated with the roles she was being offered and spent several years working on Broadway.
She returned to the screen in the 1939 low budget comedy The Girl From Mexico. The movie was a surprise hit and she appeared in a series of films playing the "Mexican Spitfire" character. In 1944 Lupe began dating aspiring actor named Harald Maresch. She became pregnant and was devastated when Harald refused to marry her. Lupe was a devout Catholic and she did not want to have an abortion or raise her baby alone. On December 13, 1944 she took her own life by overdosing on secanol pills. Lupe was only thirty-six years old. In her suicide note she wrote "May God forgive you and forgive me too but I prefer to take my life away and our baby's before I bring him with shame or killing him." More than four thousand friends and fans attended her funeral. She was buried at the Panteon Civil de Dolores in Mexico City. In the years following Lupe's death there were many bizarre rumors about what really happened to her. The book Hollywood Babylon claimed that she had been found dead with her head in the toilet. The truth is that Lupe was discovered in her bed wearing a nightgown.