Sunday, March 29, 2015

Barbara Nichols

"Homely men make the best dates. And handsome men make the worst date." ~ Barbara

Barbara Nichols was born Barbara Marie Nickerauer on December 10, 1928 in Queens, New York. When she was a teenager she danced at the Latin Quarter and was crowned "Miss Long Island". She began modeling and posed for dozens of cheesecake magazines. Her career really took off after she dyed her hair platinum blonde and had plastic surgery on her nose. With her voluptuous figure she became one of the most popular pin-up girls of the 1950s. She was featured on the cover of magazines like See and Man To Man. Barbara eventually moved to Hollywood to pursue an acting career. She made her film debut in the 1954 western River Of No Return. Over the next five years she appeared in more than a dozen films including The Pajama Game and Pal Joey. She was often compared to Marilyn Monroe but Barbara never became a major movie star.

Her romances with Steve Cochran, Jack Carter, and producer Bert Friedlob kept her name in the gossip columns. Although she had many boyfriends Barbara never married or had children. In 1960 she was seriously injured in a car crash. The accident caused liver damage which affected her health for the rest of her life. During her career she appeared on dozens of television shows. She got rave reviews for her performance in the Twilight Zone episode titled "Twenty-Two". Barbara continued to work steadily throughout the 1960s. She guest starred on Green Acres, The Beverly Hillbillies, and Hawaii Five-O. Her last role was in the 1976 movie Won Ton Ton: The Dog Who Saved Hollywood. On October 5, 1976 she died from liver failure. Barbara was only forty-seven years old. She is buried at Pinelawn Memorial Park in Farmingdale, New York.

~ Original biography by Elizabeth Ann 2014

An autographed photo (from my collection)

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Betty Compson

"They say I love money. I do, though it was pretty cold comfort, a pretty poor substitute, for all I'd lost." ~ Betty

Betty Compson was born Eleanor Luicime Compson on March 19, 1897, in Beaver, Utah. After her father's death she dropped out of school to help her family. She began her show business career as a violinist and toured with her mother in vaudeville. Betty was offered a contract with Al Christie in 1915. Over the next five years she appeared in more than forty short films. Her career really took off when she costarred with Lon Chaney in the 1919 drama The Miracle Man. She was called "The Prettiest Girl in Pictures"and became one of highest paid actresses in Hollywood. Betty was also one of the first women to run her own production company. In 1921 she starred in and produced the movie Prisoners Of Love. She married actor James Cruz in 1925 but they had a rocky relationship and separated several times. Unlike some other silent stars Betty was able to make the transition to talkies. 

She was nominated for an Academy award in 1928 for her performance in The Barker. Betty finally ended her marriage to James in 1930 and she was left nearly bankrupt by their divorce. She was forced to sell her home and many of her possessions. Betty continued to make several movies a year and even started her own cosmetics line. She auditioned for the role of Belle in Gone With The Wind but did not get the part. Her second marriage, to producer Irving Weinberg, lasted just four years. At their divorce trial she testified that he left her home alone while he went out with other women. In 1944 she married professional boxer Silvius John Gall and decided to retire from Hollywood. Her final film was the comedy Here Comes Trouble. Betty and her husband went into business together and were happily married until his death in 1962. Betty died from a heart attack on April 18, 1974. She is buried at the San Fernando Mission Cemetery in Mission Hills, California.

~ Original biography by Elizabeth Ann 2014

Betty's autograph (from my collection)

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Mabel Todd

Mabel Todd was born Mabel Dodds on August 13, 1907 in Los Angeles, California. Sadly her mother died when was very young. Mabel had a lovely singing voice and began her career in vaudeville. She and her sister Marcia often performed as a duo. Mabel started singing on the radio where she nicknamed "The Little Ray of Sunshine". She married comedian Morey Amsterdam in 1933 and the couple worked together on The Laff and Swing Club radio show. Mabel made her film debut in the 1937 musical Varsity Show. She signed a contract with Warner Brothers and was given supporting roles in Hollywood Hotel and Gold Diggers In Paris. With her blonde hair and high pitched voice Mabel was typecast as a ditzy comedienne. She was a popular personality on the Warner Brothers lot where she was often seen riding her scooter. In April 1942 Mabel appeared in one of the first televised talent shows.

The following year she starred in the film The Ghost And The Guest. Her husband Morey had written the script for her. During World War 2 she traveled across the country entertaining the troops in a USO show. Mabel and Morey split up in 1945. Their divorce was so bitter that he refused to ever speak about her again. By this time Mabel's movie career had stalled and she could only get bit parts. Her last role was playing a florist in the comedy Wife Wanted. She continued to work on the radio and appeared in several stage shows. Mabel made headlines in 1950 when she divorced her second husband Matthew A. Sontino. In court she accused him of beating her with a shoe and giving her a black eye. She retired from show business and lived a quiet life away from the spotlight. Mabel died on June 2, 1977 at the age of sixty-nine. She was cremated and her ashes are buried at the Queen Heaven's cemetery in Los Angeles, California.

~ Original biography by Elizabeth Ann 2015

With Ted Healy

With Morey Amsterdam

Monday, February 23, 2015

Actresses Who Had Abortions

Many classic actresses had to deal with unwanted pregnancies. Back then there weren't many options for birth control and having a baby out of wedlock was very controversial. These fourteen stars chose to have an abortion ...

 Ava Gardner had two abortions during her marriage to Frank Sinatra

Lana Turner had an abortion after leaving her husband Artie Shaw

Bette Davis had two abortions during her first marriage

 Marilyn Monroe had several abortions when she young

 Joan Crawford had an abortion when she was married to Douglas Fairbanks Jr.

Rita Hayworth had an abortion during her romance with Howard Hughes

Jean Harlow had her first abortion in 1919 and her second in 1936

Marion Davies had a few abortions during her long affair with William Randolph Hearst

Judy Garland had an abortion when she was married to composer David Rose

 Betty Grable had an abortion during her relationship with Artie Shaw

Virginia Rappe had several abortions which may have led to her untimely death

Mary Pickford had an abortion during her first marriage which left her unable to have children

Kay Francis had several abortions during her life

Elizabeth Taylor had an abortion when Frank Sinatra refused to marry her

Friday, February 13, 2015

Mary Pickford

"I never liked one of my pictures in its entirety." ~ Mary

Mary Pickford was born Gladys Louise Smith on April 8, 1892, in Toronto, Canada. After her father's death Mary, her brother Jack, and sister Lottie began working on the stage to support the family. D.W. Griffith discovered her and soon she was appearing in silent films. At just five feet tall with long curls she was often cast as a child. She married Owen Moore, an actor, in 1911 but they separated shorty after. Mary starred in a string of hit movies including Stella Maris, Pollyanna, and My Best Girl. She became the highest paid actress in Hollywood and was nicknamed "America's Sweetheart". Mary fell in love with dashing actor Douglas Fairbanks and they were married in 1920. The couple lived in a lavish Beverly Hills mansion called "Pickfair". Mary joined Douglas, Charlie Chaplin, and D.W. Griffith to form United Artists Studios. She was also a founding member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.

 In 1929 she starred in Coquette, her first sound film, and won the Academy Award for Best Actress. Tired of making movies she decided to retire from acting. Her sixteen year marriage to Douglas ended in 1936 and a year later she married actor Charles "Buddy" Rogers (who was rumored to be gay). Mary was unable to have children due to a botched abortion so she and Charles adopted a son and a daughter. She was offered the role of Norma Desmond in the 1950 drama Sunset Boulevard but turned it down. Mary devoted most of her time to charity work and published her autobiography, Sunshine And Shadow. As she grew older she developed a drinking problem and became a recluse. She was presented with an honorary Oscar at the 1976 Academy Awards. Mary died on May 29, 1979 from a cerebral hemorrhage. She was cremated and her ashes are buried at Forest Lawn Memorial Park in Glendale, California.

~ Original biography by Elizabeth Ann 2013

 With Douglas Fairbanks


With Eleanor Roosevelt

A signed letter (from my collection)

Mary's trinket box (from my collection)