Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Mary Nolan (1920s Starlet)

"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 headlines 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.

Bella Darvi (1950's Starlet)

Bella Darvi was born Bajla Wegier on October 23, 1928 in Sosnowiec, Poland. She was Jewish and during World War 2 she was imprisoned in a concentration camp for several years. In 1950 she married wealthy businessman Alban Cavalcade. While on vacation in Monaco she was discovered by Virginia Zanuck, the wife of Hollywood mogul wife of mogul Darryl F. Zanuck. Bella divorced her husband and moved to Hollywood to be an actress. She lived with the Zanuck's and became Darryl's mistress She was given starring roles in the dramas Hell Or High Water and The Egyption. Although she was very beautiful critics complained about her thick Polish accent. Darryl Zanuck separated from his wife and wanted to marry Bella. However when he discovered she was bi-sexual he ended their relationship.

Bella moved back to Europe where she appeared in some low budget movies. She had high profile romances with Jean-Pierre Aumont, Robert Stack, and Prince Aly Khan. In 1959 she was seriously injured in a car accident and spent three months recovering in a hospital. Bella married Claude Rouas, a waiter, in 1960 but she divorced him a year later. By this time she had a serious drinking and gambling problem. She went bankrupt and was forced to sell all her jewelry and furs. In 1964 she opened a cafe in Paris. Bella suffered from depression and attempted suicide several times. On September 11, 1971 she committed suicide by turning on the gas stove in her Monte Carlo apartment. Her body was not discovered for a week. Bella was only forty-two years old. She was buried in the City of Paris Cemetery in France.

Ossi Oswalda (German Actress)

Ossi Oswalda was born Oswalda Staglich on February 2, 1899 in Berlin, Germany. She trained to be a ballerina and worked in chorus lines when she was a teenager. Director Ernst Lubitsch discovered her and cast her in his 1916 film The Shoe Palace. Over the next five years she appeared in many of Lubitsch's comedies including The Doll, The Oyster Princess, and I Don't Want To Be A Man. She usually played spoiled, child-like characters and even appeared in drag. Ossi became one of Europe's most bankable stars earning her the nickname "The German Mary Pickford". She and Ernst Lubitsch became very close friends but their relationship was never romantic. In 1919 she married Hungarian Baron Gustav Von Koczian. Ossi and her husband started their own production company but they only made five films together.

Their marriage ended in 1925 and Ossi began a high profile romance with Crown Prince Willhelm. She signed a contract with an American producer in 1926 and tried to change her image by playing more glamorous characters. Unfortunately her career suffered with the arrival of sound films. Her last role was in the 1933 drama The Star Of Valencia. Ossi continued to work on the stage appearing in operettas in Germany and Vienna. Eventually she moved to Czechoslovakia with her boyfriend Julius Aussenberg, a former producer. In 1943 she wrote the story for the film Fourteen At The Table. Sadly by the Spring of 1947 Ossi was bankrupt and suffering from numerous health problems. She died on July 17, 1947 in Prague. Ossi was only forty-eight years old. She is buried in Olsany Cemetery in in the Czech Republic.

Charlotte Greenwood (Character Actress)

"Temperament is temper that is too old to spark." ~ Charlotte

Charlotte Greenwood was born Frances Charlotte Greenwood on June 25, 1890, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. She was a sickly child and her father left the family when she was very young. Charlotte grew into a healthy, six foot tall woman. She started her career dancing in vaudeville where she became known for her long legs. Her signature dance move was doing a high kick. She was nicknamed "Lady Longlegs". In 1915 Charlotte married actor Cyril Ring. She was deeply in love with him but he left her for another woman. Charlotte married songwriter Martin Broones in 1924. Although she dreamed of becoming a dramatic actress she had greater success in comedy. She starred in a series of stage shows playing a man crazy character named "Letty". The character became so popular that Charlotte starred in the movie version So Long Letty in 1929.

She appeared in dozens of films including Down Argentine Way, Star Dust, and The Gang's All Here. Charlotte was usually cast as the comedic sidekick and became one the most recognizable character actresses. During World War 2 she joined the Hollywood Victory Caravan and traveled across the country with other film stars raising money. Charlotte returned to the stage in 1950 starring in Cole Porter's Out of This World. She was a devout Christian scientist and her faith made her turn down roles she felt were too risque. In 1955 she played Aunt Eller in the hit musical Oklahoma. Charlotte made a few more films before retiring. She and Martin enjoyed a very happy marriage until his death in 1971. Charlotte died on December 28, 1977 from natural causes. She was cremated and her ashes were scattered at sea. Since she had no children she left her personal papers to playwright William Luce.

Martha Raye

"Ask any girl what she'd rather be than beautiful, and she'll say more beautiful." ~ Martha 

 Martha Raye was born Margaret Teresa Yvonne Reed on August 27, 1916, in Butte, Montana. Her parents were vaudeville entertainers and she started performing with them when she was a child. By the early 1930s she was working as an orchestra singer and appearing in short films. Paramount offered her a contract in 1936 and cast her in the musical Rhythm On The Range. She quickly became a popular comedic actress and was nicknamed "The Big Mouth". In 1937 she married make-up artist Bud Westmore. They divorced the following year and she married singer David Rose. After he left her for Judy Garland Martha married Neal Lange. She costarred with Bob Hope in Give Me A Sailor and with Abbot and Costello in Keep 'Em Flying. During World War 2 she traveled all over the world entertaining soldiers with actresses Carole Landis, Martha Raye, and Kay Francis. The four women starred in the film Four Jills In A Jeep based on their overseas tour. Martha loved performing for the troops and she would continue to do it for the rest of her life. She divorced Neal in 1944 and married actor Nick Condo. They had a daughter named Melodye and stayed together for nine years. In 1953 Martha married Edward T. Begley.

By this time she was mainly working on television. She hosted "Four Star Revue" and starred in "The Martha Raye Show" for two seasons. Her marriage to Edward didn't last and she married Robert O'Shea in 1956. Sadly this marriage would also end just four years later. Depressed over her failed marriages she attempted suicide by taking an overdose of pills. During the Korean and Vietnam wars Martha entertained the troops and performed in countless USO shows. She was even awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom for service to her country. Martha continued to make guest appearances on TV and starred in commercials for Polident. In 1991 she shocked her fans by marrying her seventh husband Mark Harris, a man who was openly bi-sexual and thirty-three years young than her. In her final years Martha suffered from Alzheimer's disease and lost both of her legs to poor circulation. She died from pneumonia on October 19, 1994. Martha is buried at Fort Bragg in Cumberland County, North Carolina. She left her entire estate to her husband Mark and gave nothing to her estranged daughter.

Monday, July 17, 2017

Marie Wilson

"Show business has been very good to me and I'm not complaining, but some day I just wish someone would offer me a different kind of role." ~ Marie

Marie Wilson was born Katherine Elisabeth White on August 19, 1916, in Anaheim, California. Her parents divorced and her father died when she was five years old. After graduating from high school she worked as a sales girl in a department store. She made her film debut as an extra in the 1934 film Babes In Toyland . Marie started dating director Nick Grinde who helped her get a contract at Warner Brothers. She appeared in the hit films Satan Met A Lady, Fools For Scandal, and The Cowboy Quarterback. With her baby doll voice and voluptuous figure Marie found herself typecast as a dumb blonde. In 1942 she married actor Allan Nixon. They had a turbulent marriage and Allan was arrested several times for drunk and disorderly conduct. Marie costarred with James Cagney in Boy Meets Girl and with Groucho Marx in A Girl In Every Port.

She also spent seven years working with Ken Murray in his Black Out stage show. The highlight of the show was Marie's mock striptease number. Her greatest success came in 1949 when she starred in the radio program My Friend Irma. The show became so popular that it was adapted into a movie and a television show. Marie divorced Allan and married producer Robert Fallon in 1951. The couple adopted a son named Gregson. When Marilyn Monroe became a star some critics said she stole her image from Marie. During the 1950s she toured the country with her nightclub act and released an album. She also appeared on numerous television shows. Sadly Marie was diagnosed with cancer in 1967. She passed away on November 23, 1972 at the age of fifty-six. Marie is buried at Forest Lawn Memorial Park in Hollywood, California. She has been awarded three stars on the Hollywood Walk Of Fame for her work in movies, television, and radio.


Gloria Dickson (1940s Starlet)

"Clothes are my worst extravagance and costume jewelry’s my secret sorrow and little cross." ~ Gloria

Gloria Dickson was born Thais Alalia Dickerson on August 13, 1917, in Pocotello, Idaho. After her father died her mother took Gloria and her sister to California. During high school she started acting in local theater productions. When she was nineteen a Warner Brothers talent scout saw one of her performances and offered her a contract. For her first film she was given a leading role in the 1937 drama They Won't Forget. Her performance got rave reviews and she was called the "luckiest girl in Hollywood". Gloria continued to get good roles in Gold Diggers In Paris, They Made Me A Criminal, and I Want A Divorce. In 1938 she married make-up artist Perc Westmore. He wanted her to be more glamorous and convinced her to have a nose job. After leaving MGM Gloria's career stalled.

She could only only get small roles in B-movies like Lady Of Burlesque and The Affairs of Jimmy Valentine. Gloria divorced Perc and married director Ralph Murphy in 1941. Unfortunately Ralph had a wandering eye and their marriage only lasted two years. By 1944 Gloria was unemployed and overweight. She was also struggling with a serious alcohol problem. Gloria married former boxer William Fitzgerald and rented a house in West Hollywood. On April 10, 1945 Gloria was taking a nap when the house caught on fire. She tried to escape but ended up trapped in a bathroom. Gloria suffered second degree burns and died from asphyxiation. She was only twenty-seven years old. Gloria is buried at Hollywood Forever cemetery with a tombstone reading "Thais A. Dickerson, My Baby".