TODAY IN GINNY! - April 16 - Lola Jensen

Lola Jensen (1918) was a dancer and all around good looker in the late 1930s. She was one of those high heeled volleyball players in that one photo I’ve published at the VWRS a couple of times. She was usually an uncredited dancer or model in films, She apparently had a small part as a party guest in THE LONE WOLF SPY HUNT (1939). She also worked with the Three Stooges and TIGer Benny Bartlett on shorts at Columbia.

TODAY IN GINNY!- April 16 - Barry Nelson

Barry Nelson (1917) will always be James Bond to ginnyfan.  He played James Bond, an American government agent, in a television play of CASINO ROYALE. He had a steady career in movies in the 1940s, but his career really took off on television. It seemed like he was on TV every week when I was a kid. He was even on an episode of DAVID CASSIDY-MAN UNDERCOVER. He played George Cooper when CBS tried to make a television version of Lucille Ball’s radio series, MY FAVORITE HUSBAND. His Danny O’Brien is too busy flirting with Marsha Hunt’s Martha while Virginia as Miranda Sommerfield takes the cake in THE AFFAIRS OF MARTHA (1942). And, yes, that’s Marjorie Main at left.

TODAY IN GINNY! - April 16 - Douglas McPhail

Douglas McPhail (1914) is a real tragedy. Groomed as a new Nelson Eddy by MGM, he fell out of favor when the operetta genre fell out of favor and MGM didn’t need another Nelson Eddy. Dropped from the studio, his marriage to singing partner Betty Jaynes broke up, the Army discharged him for medical reasons and he took his own life in 1944. Most of us remember his wonderful duet with Jaynes on "Where Or When" in BABES IN ARMS. His final screen role was as Murray Saunders in BORN TO SING (1942), where he got to lead the cast in the "Ballad For Americans". I posted a grainy version of this photo before, but Ken found a clean one. In it Doug is recording his number while Ginny sits, knits, and seems to be singing along.

TODAY IN GINNY! - April 16 - Jean Stevens

Actress Jean Stevens (1914) had a bit role in FIXER DUGAN (1939), probably as a background circus performer. She was more often than not a dancer, listed as such in GEORGE WHITE’S SCANDALS, KING OF BURLESQUE, A DAMSEL IN DISTRESS, and THE MORE THE MERRIER. She was a ‘jitterbug’ in A LADY TAKES A CHANCE. It appears that all of these roles were under her real first and middle names of Peggy Carroll. Apparently, her name was changed to Jean Stevens when she started being a featured performer in B westerns late in her career. Here’s Jean singing and dancing with The Jesters to "When They Fiddle Out The Polka" from THE RETURN OF THE DURANGO KID with Charles Starrett.

TODAY IN GINNY! - April 16 - Doris Day and Robert Ryan

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You are a struggling actress. You hit Broadway with what presumably is your birth name, have some success, and go to Hollywood. In Hollywood you make some B pictures, even have the female lead in a couple, but your career consists of 12 films and ends in 1943-four years after you got to town.

Within a year of your departure, someone else who changed her name to yours begins to get noticed on stage and by the end of the 1940s, is heading for film superstardom. To add insult to injury, IMDb abandons their policy of putting (I) next to the name of the first person to act under a name and puts it next to hers! You are relegated to having (II) next to yours, even though you came first and it’s your real name.

I am writing about B actress Doris Day (1910). She played Freeman’s secretary in THIS TIME FOR KEEPS (1942). Thanks to my having a copy of the film, this is her second photo on the internet. The first was when I posted this birthday last year.

Now imagine you are B actor Robert Ryan (1896). ginnyfan doesn’t own a copy of BORN TO SING, the 1942 Weidler film in which you played a cop (the character you played in 90% of your films), and when he searches for you he only finds photos of that other guy. You, too, got demoted by IMDb to (II) status and on top of that you go photoless on TIG. Instead, here’s a movie poster from THE COLLEGE WIDOW I “borrowed” from the Polish version of IMDb, he played Jack Larrbee in that one.

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TODAY IN GINNY! - April 16 - Christy Cabanne

William “Christy” Cabanne (1888) was a Hollywood director for almost forty years. His earliest work is LIFE OF VILLA (1912), one of two films he and Raoul Walsh shot with the General himself. He ended up directing a lot of oaters, some horror and a little comedy. He directed the 1934 version of JANE EYRE with Virginia Bruce and Colin Clive, a version that seems to be overwhelmingly hated. He was also the director on Guy Kibbee’s Scattergood Baines series. He directed THE OUTCASTS OF POKER FLAT (1937), another film that, like EYRE, gets downgraded a bit by critics for playing fast and loose with the original story. All I can tell you is that if you aren’t judging it by it’s faithfulness to Harte, OOPF is pretty entertaining and Ginny is quite good as the card dealing Luck, one of three women in love with the gambler Oakhurst. In the photo, Cabanne sets up a scene between Preston Foster and his main love interest, Jean Muir. 

TODAY IN GINNY! - April 16 - Herbert Evans

Herbert Evans (1882) was another one of those butler actors. He played enough butlers that he probably could actually take on the role off-screen between pictures. He was Fagin, the Carson’s butler in THE LONE WOLF SPY HUNT (1939). From what I remember his only spoken line was from off-screen. He got to be a townsman in MAID OF SALEM (1937). I guess Salem had no butlers in those days. And he had an “bit role” in Peter Ibbetson-I’m betting it was some sort of servant. He also played butlers in two different Gloria Jean films and played a chauffeur in CURLY TOP.The photo is Evans as the Earl of Glenheather in The Three Stooges’ THE HOT SHOTS.

Ken Robichaux sent us this nice BABES ON BROADWAY photo yesterday. This is a good example of “in between Ginny”. She had rebelled against the braids starting in 1940, but they usually managed to maneuver her into them for at least one scene in every picture, or so she told us in 1943. Here she’s sporting the pompadour she got them to agree to sans braids (ginnyfan finds the pompadour with braids that MGM liked during this period to be, well, interesting.) She’s even doing the flower clip thing that will become a standard accessory in later photos.  Ken also sent a note about a book he found. I found that so neat, I thought I’d share. 

I just purchased a copy of “Judy Garland: The Day-by-Day Chronicle of a Legend” by Scott Schechter. I’ve never seen a book like it! It literally covers Judy’s life day by day giving rehearsal and shooting schedules, contract deals, recording sessions, etc., etc. For instance: July 22, 1941: Babes on Broadway filming. Scenes: Int. Jonesy’s Office and Ext. Roof Top. Time called: 9 a.m.: 11:30-11:42 —- Wait to have Miss Garland’s skirt pressed —- Was lying down in dressing room; lunch 12:55-1:55 p.m.; time dismissed 6:15 p.m. July 23, 1941, July 24, 1941, and July 25, 1941: Judy shot Life Begins for Andy Hardy retakes, and, thus, was not on the Babes on Broadway set. This was Judy’s third and final appearance in the Andy Hardy/Hardy Family series —- and certainly least satisfying or fulfilling, since all of her songs were deleted. The film would be released in August 1941. July 26, 1941: The company of Babes on Broadway shut down for the day as Judy was ill and nothing could be shot that day without her. And it goes on and on and on … I’ve never seen so much fascinating trivia (especially detailed information about Judy’s contracts with M-G-M)… Anyway, if I discover anything in the book that might be relevant to Ginny’s career, I’ll let you know.

Ken Robichaux sent us this nice BABES ON BROADWAY photo yesterday. This is a good example of “in between Ginny”. She had rebelled against the braids starting in 1940, but they usually managed to maneuver her into them for at least one scene in every picture, or so she told us in 1943. Here she’s sporting the pompadour she got them to agree to sans braids (ginnyfan finds the pompadour with braids that MGM liked during this period to be, well, interesting.) She’s even doing the flower clip thing that will become a standard accessory in later photos.

Ken also sent a note about a book he found. I found that so neat, I thought I’d share.

I just purchased a copy of “Judy Garland: The Day-by-Day Chronicle of a Legend” by Scott Schechter. I’ve never seen a book like it! It literally covers Judy’s life day by day giving rehearsal and shooting schedules, contract deals, recording sessions, etc., etc. For instance:

July 22, 1941: Babes on Broadway filming. Scenes: Int. Jonesy’s Office and Ext. Roof Top. Time called: 9 a.m.: 11:30-11:42 —- Wait to have Miss Garland’s skirt pressed —- Was lying down in dressing room; lunch 12:55-1:55 p.m.; time dismissed 6:15 p.m.

July 23, 1941, July 24, 1941, and July 25, 1941: Judy shot Life Begins for Andy Hardy retakes, and, thus, was not on the Babes on Broadway set. This was Judy’s third and final appearance in the Andy Hardy/Hardy Family series —- and certainly least satisfying or fulfilling, since all of her songs were deleted. The film would be released in August 1941.

July 26, 1941: The company of Babes on Broadway shut down for the day as Judy was ill and nothing could be shot that day without her.

And it goes on and on and on … I’ve never seen so much fascinating trivia (especially detailed information about Judy’s contracts with M-G-M)…

Anyway, if I discover anything in the book that might be relevant to Ginny’s career, I’ll let you know.

Jarrod just mentioned over at the TCM forums that today is the second anniversary of my TCM forums thread, “In Search of…Virginia Weidler.” I hadn’t realized that. The thread really started this whole thing, leading to a group at TCM’s Classic Film Union, then to Facebook by that summer and then to the tumblr page which became virginiaweidler.net just a couple of months ago.  Once again, ginnyfan wants to thank the Academy…

Jarrod just mentioned over at the TCM forums that today is the second anniversary of my TCM forums thread, “In Search of…Virginia Weidler.”

I hadn’t realized that. The thread really started this whole thing, leading to a group at TCM’s Classic Film Union, then to Facebook by that summer and then to the tumblr page which became virginiaweidler.net just a couple of months ago.

Once again, ginnyfan wants to thank the Academy…

TODAY IN GINNY! - April 15 - Jack D. Moore and Ruth Findlay

We have a short TODAY IN GINNY with two birthdays both related to a single film.

Jack D. Moore (1906) was the set decorator for THE WOMEN (1939). He was nominated for Oscars several times and won for the 1950 version of LITTLE WOMEN. Some of his other work included LOVE ME OR LEAVE ME, THE TENDER TRAP, and AIRPORT. TCM has made sure we memorize every single inch of those sets on THE WOMEN for the past year and a half or so.

Ruth Findlay (1917) had a short career in the 1930s under three different names, this one, Ruth Frazer, and Marian Arnold. Almost all her films were small studio oaters. THE WOMEN was her biggest film; the pedicurist her smallest part. She was married for many years to actor Frank Yaconelli, who usually played Mexican sidekicks in B westerns.

Mary and Little Mary showing us what they really watch on their home projector and then taking it down when done will stand in for both our honorees.

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