Archive for WW 2 Pin Up Girls
The World Book Dictionary defines pinup as: “Noun 1. A picture of a very attractive or famous person, pinned up on a wall, as in a barracks, usually by admirers who have not met the subject. 2. A very attractive girl, especially one considered attractive enough to be the subject of such a picture.”
Deanna Durbin was born Edna Mae Durbin on December 4, 1921, in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada. Her British-born parents moved to California while she was still young, and her singing voice soon had talent scouts knocking at her door.
She signed a contract with MGM in 1936, at the age of 14, which resulted in her appearance in “Every Sunday” (1936), a short that also starred Judy Garland. Deanna was dropped by MGM but was immediately picked up by Universal Pictures, which cast her in the role of Penny Craig in “Three Smart Girls” (1936).
While preparing for the role she was coached intensely by director Henry Koster; it’s doubtful she would have been the star she was had it not been for Koster. The profits from this film and its follow-up, “One Hundred Men and a Girl” (1937), rescued Universal from bankruptcy. The studio quickly capitalized on these hits, casting Deanna in two successive and highly acclaimed films, “That Certain Age” (1938) and “Mad About Music” (1938). With these films Deanna became Hollywood’s darling. She reprised her role of Penny Craig in “Three Smart Girls Grow Up” (1939).
Deanna was such a hit that she shared the Academy Award’s 1939 Juvenile Award with Mickey Rooney “for their significant contribution in bringing to the screen the spirit and personification of youth, and as juvenile players, setting high standards of ability and achievement”. Deanna’s singing and acting ability had the world talking. There was no doubt she was the most popular performer of her day.
She was, however, by nature a very private individual, never comfortable with the glitz, glamor and publicity that came with stardom. Despite her uneasiness, she continued to churn out hits and kept the public enthralled. In 1943 she played Penny Craig again, for the third time, in “Hers to Hold” (1943). Deanna’s final film was “For the Love of Mary” (1948), whereupon, at the age of 27, she simply walked away. For a star of her stature, that took a tremendous amount of courage. All she wanted was to be anonymous.
Today Deanna lives in France, just outside Paris, with her third husband, French director Charles David, whom she wed in 1950. She has had numerous offers to return to the screen and has turned them all down. She has not even been interviewed since 1949. Such is her appeal, however, even after all these years, that she still gets fan mail and requests for autographs. Henry Koster did, indeed, create a legend.
Was an option to play Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz (1939).
By twenty-one, she was the highest-paid woman in the United States and highest-paid female film star in the World.
Deanna Durbin dolls existed along with many other types of merchandising in the 1940s.
Universal Pictures top star in the 1940s where she was paid $400,000 per film. She is reported as the star who saved the company.
Tried for the voice of Snow White in Walt Disney’s Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937) but Disney himself rejected her, claiming she sounded “too mature.” She was 14 at the time.
She was sought for the female leads of the original Broadway productions of both Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II’s “Oklahoma!” (1943) and Alan Jay Lerner and Frederick Loewe’s “My Fair Lady” (1956). Universal refused to loan her for Oklahoma! and she turned down the lead in My Fair Lady (after Lerner personally came to her home to audition the songs for her) because, as she said later, “I had my ticket for Paris in my pocket.”
She was the number one female box office star in Britain for the years 1939- 1942 inclusive. She was so popular that in 1942 a seven day “Deanna Durbin Festival” was held during which her films were screened exclusively on the Odeon Theatre Circuit throughout Britain, a feat that has never been duplicated for any other star. According to reports from the BBC over the past three decades, it receives more requests from the public for Durbin’s films and recordings, than for those of any other star of Hollywood’s Golden Age.
She was Holocaust victim Anne Frank’s favorite movie star. There are two pictures of Durbin on Anne’s “Movie Wall” in the secret annex in Amsterdam where Frank and her family hid from the Nazis.
In 1941, Italian fascist dictator Benito Mussolini published an open letter to Durbin in his official newspaper, “Il Popolo”, asking her to intercede with President Franklin Delano Roosevelt on behalf of American youth to dissuade him from becoming involved in Word War II. She didn’t.
She was Prime Minister Winston Churchill’s favorite movie star. He reportedly insisted that he be permitted to screen her films privately before they were released to the public in Britain, and would often screen her film One Hundred Men and a Girl (1937) to celebrate British victories during World War II. He considered her “a formidable talent.”
“I couldn’t go on forever being Little Miss Fixit who burst into song.”
“Just as Hollywood pin-up represents sex to dissatisfied erotics, so I represented the ideal daughter millions of fathers and mothers wished they had.” – 1959
Little known singer/actress Gale Robbins was a knockout-looking hazel-eyed redhead who made a slight dent in post-war Hollywood. Born Betty Gale Robbins in Chicago, Illinois (some say Mitchell, Indiana) on May 7, 1921, she was the daughter of Arthur E. and Blanche Robbins, and educated at Chicago’s Jennings Seminary at Aurora, Illinois and Flower Tech. Gale had a natural flair for music and appeared in glee clubs and church choirs in the early days. She graduated from her Chicago high school in 1939.
She started out in entertainment as a model for the Vera Jones Modeling School in Chicago, but her singing talents soon took over. Signed by a talent agency, she sang with Phil Levant’s outfit in 1940 and later teamed with some male singers for a swing band that called themselves “The Duchess and Her Dukes.” She went on to work with some of the top radio and live ‘big bands’ of that era including the Ben Bernie, Jan Garber and Hal Kemp orchestras.
20th Century-Fox caught sight of this slim looker and quickly signed her up, her first film being the pleasant time-filler “In the Meantime, Darling” (1944). A semi-popular cheesecake pin-up, Gale appeared on the cover of “Yank, The Army Weekly” in 1944 and toured with Bob Hope in Europe the next year. Her post-war parts, mostly sultry second leads, were typically lightweight in nature. She was often lent out to other studios and not always in a singing mode. Gale’s better known film work includes “Race Street” (1948), “The Barkleys of Broadway” (1949), “Three Little Words” (1950), “The Fuller Brush Girl” (1950) and “Calamity Jane” (1953).
Gale went on to host the “Hollywood House” (1949) and also appeared on “The Colgate Comedy Hour” (1950) in 1951. In the late 50s the gal with the smooth and sexy vocal style released an easy-listening album (“I’m a Dreamer”) for the Vik Label backed by Eddie Cano & His Orchestra. She covered such standards as “Them There Eyes” and “What Is This Thing Called Love.” After her final film appearance in “Quantrill’s Raiders” (1958) and a few additional TV parts, Gale phased out her career to focus full-time on raising her family.
Married to her high school sweetheart Robert Olson in December of 1943 while he was serving in the Air Force, her husband turned to construction engineering as a career and they had two children. After he was tragically killed in a 1968 building accident, Gale, left with two daughters to raise, decided to make a comeback of sorts. Besides appearing in nightclubs, she was glimpsed in the film “Stand Up and Be Counted” (1972) and appeared on stage in Stephen Sondheim’s musical “Company” in 1975.
Gale Robbins died of lung cancer on February 18, 1980 (aged 58) in Los Angeles, California.
Linda Darnell, was born Monetta Eloyse Darnell, in Dallas, Texas on October 16, 1923. She was one of five children of a post office worker and his wife. A Texas-born beauty, her mother encouraged her to model. Her mother already knew that Linda was special because of her rare good looks. By 1934 she was modeling clothes for an area department store. Sometimes officials would think that she was 15 or 16 because she really didn’t look her age. Neither Linda nor her mother discouraged their thinking.
By the time Linda was 13, she was appearing with local theater companies and her talent was already becoming apparent. There was no doubt that Linda had a rare gift for someone so young. When the Hollywood moguls sent scouts to the Dallas-Fort Worth area, her mother thought it would be a good idea to give Linda a shot at a try-out. The talent scouts took one look at her and her acting abilities and arranged for a screen test. She made the trek to Hollywood and when her true age was discovered she was sent home. After two years and more local theater appearances, Linda returned to California and her career was off and running.
Her debut was in 1939 in the role of Marcia Bromley in “Hotel for Women” (1939). She was all of 16 at the time and became the youngest leading lady in Hollywood history. Her next film was that same year in “Day-Time Wife” (1939). Her third film was as Carolyn Sayres in “Star Dust” (1940) made in 1940 and Linda immediately rose to heights of stardom. Other quality films followed. In 1941 she appeared in “Blood and Sand” (1941) and “Rise and Shine” (1941). In 1945 she played Netta Longdon in the film “Hangover Square” (1945). The movie proved to be a box-office bonanza. The following year Linda appeared with the legendary Lillian Gish in “Centennial Summer” (1946). Later that same year she co-starred with Henry Fonda and Victor Mature in “My Darling Clementine” (1946). It was another hit. Linda reached the height of her career when she played opposite Cornel Wilde in 1947’s “Forever Amber” (1947) where she survives the famed London fire. In 1952 she starred in “Blackbeard, the Pirate” (1952) along with Irene Ryan, Robert Newton, and William Bendix. She had filmed a total of 46 movies.
Linda’s final appearance on the silver screen was in 1965’s “Black Spurs” (1965). She was married and divorced three times. They were: J. Peverell Marley from 1944-1952, Phillip Liebmann (a New York brewer) from 1954-1955 and finally Merle Roy Robertson (an airline pilot) from 1957-1962.
Linda died of burns she suffered in a house fire of an unknown source at the home of her former secretary in Glenview, Illinois. While sleeping upstairs and awakened by smoke, she tried to exit through the downstairs door, but was trapped. Badly burned over 90% of her body she died the following day in the hospital. Ironically, she had been watching “Star Dust” (1940) on television earlier that evening, which was one of the films that set her career in motion. Often described as the “girl with the perfect face”, Linda died on April 10, 1965 at the age of 41.
Born Elsie Lillian Kornbrath to Frederick and Elizabeth Kornbrath on December 14, 1917 in Hartford, Connecticut, she is not the daughter of U.S. Secretary of the Navy Frank Knox, despite many modern sources suggesting she is. She studied at the Traphagen School of Fashion in Manhattan then embarked on a career in fashion design. Her good looks enabled her to model some of her own creations for Vogue magazine that led to a contract offer from Twentieth Century Fox film studio in 1937.
Knox performed mainly in minor or secondary roles until 1942 when she had a leading role with Lon Chaney, Jr. in “The Mummy’s Tomb”, one of the series of Mummy horror films made by Universal Studios. Knox appeared as herself in the Universal Studios 1944 production “Follow the Boys,” one of the World War II morale-booster films made for both the soldiers serving overseas as well as civilians at home. Knox also was a pin up girl during the War, appearing in such magazines as YANK, a weekly put out by the United States Military.
In late 1945, she was signed by Monogram Pictures to portray Anne Howe, the love interest of fictional boxer Joe Palooka in “Joe Palooka, Champ”. Based on the very popular comic strip, the instant success of the May 1946 film led to Elyse Knox appearing in another five Joe Palooka productions. After acting in thirty-nine films, Elyse Knox retired in 1949 following her performance in the musical film “There’s a Girl in My Heart”.
Knox continued to do modeling work for print ads and while appearing on the Bing Crosby radio show she met football star Tom Harmon. They became engaged, but broke up when Harmon entered the U.S. Army Air Corps in 1942. That year, Knox married fashion photographer Paul Hesse, who had shot many of her print ads and magazine covers. The marriage was brief. Following her divorce and Tom Harmon’s return from World War II (during which he survived two plane crashes and being lost in the jungle), she and Harmon married in 1944. Knox’s wedding dress was made from silk from the parachute Harmon used when bailing out of his crippled plane. The couple remained together until his death in 1990. They had three children, Kristin (b.1945), an actress and painter who at seventeen married recording artist Ricky Nelson and had Tracy, twins Gunnar and Matthew, and son Sam; Kelly (b. 1948), who modeled and also acted in film and television (TJ Hooker) and was once married to automaker John DeLorean; and Mark (b.1951), film and television actor who starred in films such as “The Presidio” and the current TV show “NCIS”.
Brown – light eyes and Blonde hair.
She it the Mother-in-law of actress Pam Dawber.
Besides being married to a football star, Tom Harmon, her brother, Ron Knox, played quarterback for the Chicago Bears, and her son, Mark Harmon, was a star quarterback at UCLA.
Marie McDonald, born Cora Marie Frye on July 6, 1923 in Burgin, Kentucky, was a leggy, voluptuous blonde starlet who pursued her career with aÂ vengeance but found little reward in the end. Her mother was a former Ziegfeld girl and her grandmother an operatic singer. Her father, on theÂ other hand, was not so artistically inclined, earning a living as a warden at Leavenworth Prison. Her parents divorced when Marie was just 6 yearsÂ old. Â Marie’s mother remarried and the new family moved to Yonkers, New York, where she attended Roosevelt High School and excelled in piano andÂ wrote for the school newspaper.
Although Marie was offered a college scholarship by Columbia University in journalism, Marie’s impressive beauty and physical assets propelled herÂ to try a show business career. A Powers model at 15 (she lied about her age), she quit high school and started entering beauty contests, winningÂ the Miss Yonkers and The Queen of Coney Island titles, among others. In 1939 she was crowned Miss New York, but subsequently lost at the MissÂ America pageant.
The attention she received from her beauty titles, however, pointed her straight to the Broadway stage and the George White’s Scandals of 1939.
This in turn led to her move to Los Angeles, finding work in the chorus line while trying to break into pictures. She found her first singing workÂ with Tommy Dorsey & His Orchestra on his radio show and eventually joined other bands as well. Although Universal signed her up, she couldn’t getÂ past a few one-line jobs. She knew publicity would have to be her mode of operation if she was to draw the necessary attention and advance herÂ career.
During World War II, McDonald became one of Hollywood’s most popular pin-up girls and she posed for the United States military magazine,Â YANK.
Press agents dubbed Marie The Body and the tag eventually stuck. Though her physical attributes were impressive, her talent was less so. ManagingÂ to come her way were the films Guest in the House (1944), Living in a Big Way (1947) with Gene Kelly and Tell It to the Judge (1949). Marie wasÂ once in contention for the Billie Dawn role in Born Yesterday, which could have been her big break, but she lost out to Judy Holliday. Â TheÂ audience simply didn’t latch on to Marie and she ended up more on the road doing bus-and-truck shows than anything else.
Despite a plethora of tabloid attention, which included her seven marriages and numerous sex scandals in addition to the publicity hijinks she
managed to muster up, notoriety that would have made the late Jayne Mansfield envious, Marie’s career eventually stalled and she turned to drink,Â drugs and despair. This led to frequent skirmishes with the law and more than a few nervous breakdowns. Her last effective role was in the JerryÂ Lewis starrer The Geisha Boy (1958) where she gamely played a snippy movie star at the mercy of the comedian’s outrageous slapstick. On OctoberÂ 21, 1965 (aged 42) at Calabasas, California, the never-say-die gal finally decided enough was enough and she ended it all with an overdose ofÂ Percodan. Â She was laid to rest in the Forest Lawn Memorial Park Cemetery in Glendale, California.
Three months after McDonald’s death, her sixth husband Donald F. Taylor, who was a producer had occasionally acted under the name Don Taylor,Â committed suicide in January 1966. McDonald’s three surviving children were raised by Harry Karl and his wife, Debbie Reynolds.