Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Marvel Rea (Mack Sennett Bathing Beauty)

Marvel Rea was born Marvel Luciel Rea on November 9, 1901, in Ainsworth, Nebraska. When she was a child her family lived in Seattle and eventually moved in California. She grew into a beautiful teenager with a petite figure and champagne blonde hair. Marvel was very athletic and loved to swim and surf. In 1918 she married a banker named Henry Page Wells. Unfortunately he was a drug addict and she left him a month later. When she filed for divorce she claimed he "stood on her head". Movie producer Mack Sennett discovered Marvel and she became one of his bathing beauties. Before long she was given small roles in movies like Her Screen Idol and The Summer Girls. She became known as "the girl with the most beautiful figure on the Motion Picture stage".

Although she would appear in more than thirty films Marvel never became a major star. She decided to stop acting in 1921. Her final role was in the short film For Land's Sake. Marvel married her second husband Edwin J. Wilkinson in 1936 but her happiness was short-lived. On September 2, 1936 she was kidnapped and assaulted by three men. She was choked, cut, and left semi-conscious in the street. The men were caught and Marvel had to testify at the headline-making trial. Sadly she never fully recovered from the attack. She committed suicide on June 17, 1937 by ingesting ant poison. Marvel was only thirty-five years old. She is buried at Pacific Crest Cemetery in Redondo Beach, California.

~ Original biography by Elizabeth Ann 2014

Marvel, Ford Sterling, and Alice Maison

Marvel is sitting on the right

Jean Harlow's Tragic Death

"I've found everything I've never found before. And when it ends - as it probably must - well even then 
I won't feel that life has cheated me too much." ~ Jean Harlow in 1937

Jean Harlow's life came to a tragic end on June 7, 1937. The blonde superstar was just twenty-six years old. In her short life Jean had starred in more than forty films, had three husbands, and created hundreds of headlines. At the time of her death she was in an on-again off-again romance with actor William Powell. After she died wild rumors started spreading about what had really happened. Some people claimed Jean's hair bleach had killed her or that she died from a botched abortion. The truth was much more simple but just as tragic. When Jean was just fifteen years old she came down with Scarlett fever. She never fully recovered and the illness slowly weakened her over the next decade. In March 1937 Jean began work on the film Saratoga with he good friend Clark Gable.

Jean on May 29, 1937

She complained that she wasn't feeling and missed several days of work to have her wisdom teeth removed. On May 29 William Powell took her home after she almost fainted on the set. Although her mother claimed to be a Christian Scientist several doctors were called to examine Jean. At first they thought she had gallbladder infection but it was soon clear that her kidneys were failing. She became very bloated and her breath smelled like urine. Jean was taken to Good Samaritan hospital on June 6 where she slipped into a coma. She died the next morning at 11:37AM. The official cause of her death was kidney failure and a cerebral edema. William Powell paid $25,000 for a large crypt at Forest Lawn Memorial Park. The inscription on her graves reads simply "Our Baby".

Jean's crypt in the Great Mausoleum

William Powell and his mother at Jean's funeral

Jean's funeral at Forest Lawn

Jean, Lionel Barrymore, and Clark Gable on the set of Saratoga

Jean Wallace

"Franchot Tone is the most exciting, handsome, lovable, exasperating, beguiling, and challenging
man in my world." ~ Jean

Jean Wallace was born Jean Walasek on October 12, 1923 in Chicago, Illinois. She started modeling when she was a teenager and worked as an Earl Carroll showgirl. Jean made her film debut in the 1941 musical Ziegfeld Girl. She had reportedly lied about her age to get the part. When she was just eighteen years old Jean married actor Franchot Tone who was twice her age. She was offered a five year contract with Fox where she given small roles in movies like When My Baby Smiles At Me and It Shouldn't Happen To A Dog. Jean and Franchot had two sons together - Pascal and Thomas. The couple had a difficult marriage and separated several times. After they divorced in 1948 Jean had romances with Howard Hughes and gangster Johnny Stompanato.

 With Franchot Tone

She continued to make movies but her personal life created more headlines than her career. In 1949 Jean was arrested for drunk driving and she attempted suicide by stabbing herself with a butcher knife. Her second marriage, to Army Sergeant Jim Lloyd Randall, lasted only five months. She seemed to finally find happiness when she married actor Cornel Wilde in 1951. Jean and Cornel worked together in several films including The Devil's Hairpin and Sword Of Lancelot. Their son, Cornel Wallace, was born in 1967. Jean retired from making movies to be a full-time mother. Sadly her thirty year marriage to Cornel came to an end in 1981. She spent the next decade living in Beverly Hills with her beloved pets. Jean died on February 14, 1990 after suffering a gastrointestinal hemorrhage. She is buried at Hollywood Forever cemetery in Hollywood, California.

~ Original biography by Elizabeth Ann 2015

With Cornel Wilde

With Cornel Wilde

Jean with Carole Landis and her husband Horace Schmidlapp

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Mary Thurman (Silent Actress)

"I shall always be grateful for the years I spent in comedy. I attained success and I made money but it wasn't the sort of work I liked." ~ Mary

Mary Thurman was born Mary Christiansen on April 27, 1895, in Richfield, Utah. She was one of seven children raised in the Mormon faith. Sadly her father passed away when she was nine. Mary attended the University of Utah and got a job as a teacher. In 1915 she took a trip to Hollywood. A talent scout saw her and she became one of the famous Mack Sennett bathing beauties. She also began appearing in Sennett's comedy shorts. Mary started out as an extra and quickly worked her way up to leading lady. Between 1916 and 1918 she made more than twenty films. Mary married her childhood sweetheart Victor E. Thurman but the couple divorced in 1919. Mary costarred with Rosco "Fatty" Arbuckle in Leap Year and with William Desmond in The Prince And Betty.

Although she had become a popular comedienne she dreamed of being a serious actress. She signed with producer Allan Dwan who cast her in the 1920 drama In The Heart Of A Fool. Her performance got rave reviews. Allan would direct Mary in several more films including The Sin of Martha Queed and A Broken Doll. Off screen Mary and Allan fell in love and were engaged for a short time. In the fall 1925 she began work on the movie Down Upon The Suwanee River. While filming in Florida she came down with a serious case of pneumonia. She struggled with the illness for months and passed away on December 22, 1925. Mary was only thirty years old. Her mother and her best friend, actress Juanita Hansen, were by her side when she died. Mary was buried in Richfield City Cemetery in her hometown of Richfield, Utah.

~ Original biography by Elizabeth Ann 2015

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Mary Nolan

"I've had a beautiful life, I've tumbled into the most beautiful life in the world. I'd never change it." ~ Mary

Mary Nolan was born Mary Imogene Robertson on December 18, 1905 in Louisville, Kentucky. When she was a child her mother died from cancer and Mary's father placed her in a foster home. Eventually she moved to New York City and began working as a nude model. Producer Florenz Ziegfeld discovered her and gave her a featured role in the Ziegfeld Follies. Using the stage named Bubbles Wilson she quickly became the Follies most popular dancer. Mary had a tumultuous romance with actor Frank Tinney who was married. In 1924 Frank beat Mary so badly that she had him arrested. The case caused a huge scandal and Mary was fired from the Ziegfeld Follies. She moved to Germany and began making movies under the name Imogene Robertson. Mary returned to the United states in 1927 and signed a contract with Universal. She costarred with Lon Chaney in West Of Zanzibar and with John Gilbert in Desert Nights. Her performances got great reviews and she became one of Hollywood's most sought after starlets. In 1929 she was given the lead role in the drama Shanghai Lady. She was now earning $3000 a week. Mary started having an affair with married studio executive Eddie Mannix.

When she became pregnant he forced her to have an abortion. Eddie was very abusive and one of his beatings put her in the hospital for several months. While Mary was recovering she became addicted to morphine. In 1930 she was fired from the movie What Men Want after getting into a fight with the director. She made healines again when she sued her ex-lover Eddie Mannix for pain and suffering. The bad publicity destroyed her career and she could only get parts in low budget films. She married stock broker Wallace T. McCreary in 1931 but they separated one year later. Her final acting role was in the 1933 mystery File 113. She moved to New York City and made a living singing in nightclubs. Mary was arrested several times and she was jailed in 1937 for failing to pay her bills. After overdosing on sedatives she spent a year in a psychiatric hospital. In early 1948 she was hospitalized for malnutrition. Mary was found dead in her Hollywood apartment on October 31, 1948. Next to her body was a child's poem and a handwritten note that said "If this were only true". She had died from a secanol overdose at the young age of forty-two. The police said her death was either a suicide or an accident. She is buried at Hollywood Forever cemetery in Hollywood, California.

~ Original biography by Elizabeth Ann 2015

Mary posing nude

Mary in 1937