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

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 ...


"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

Jeanette MacDonald's First Letter From Nelson Eddy

I recently obtained a rare handwritten letter Nelson Eddy sent to Jeanette MacDonald in November 1934. Nelson and Jeanette made eight musicals together and became known as "America's Singing Sweethearts". Off screen the couple had a passionate romance that lasted for decades. They kept their relationship a secret and it continued even after they were both married. This letter was written by Nelson a month before they started filming their first movie Naughty Marietta.

 Here is the text of the letter ...

Dear Miss McDonald, Thank you for the wire. It was terribly sweet of you and I appreciate it more than I can tell you. One day I hope to get up courage enough to tell you I think you're the grandest person in the world. Very gratefully yours, Nelson Eddy

This is my favorite Nelson and Jeanette duet ...

Marion Aye (Mack Sennett Bathing Beauty)

"A man outside the studio is far more apt to remain the lover. For to him you can preserve the glamour of the screen" ~ Marion

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"

 She was sometimes credited as Maryon Aye

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.

~ Original biography by Elizabeth Ann 2014

Marion (center) with other bathing beauties


Margaret Roach

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

Margaret with her brother and father Hal Roach

John Hubbard, Margaret, and Carole Landis

Patsy Kelly, Margaret, and Adolphe Menjou
With Charles Butterworth

With William Gargan