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.”
Vivid, strikingly beautiful actress Anne Gwynne arrived in Hollywood a typical starry-eyed model looking to become a big film star, and ended up one of Universal Studio’s favorite screamers in “B” horror films. Born Marguerite Gwynne Trice in Waco, Texas on December 10, 1918, but raised in Missouri, she first modeled Catalina swimwear and appeared in local community theater productions to gain experience. Universal Studios took one look at this gorgeous eyeful and immediately signed her up in 1939. Her first work was in westerns opposite the likes of Johnny Mack Brown, but she swiftly moved to chillers and at the mercy of Boris Karloff, Bela Lugosi, and Lon Chaney Jr.. Though she seldom rose above the second-string ranks, she was quite popular with the servicemen as a WWII pin-up.
Gwynne was a welcome presence in Universal’s “B” product, appearing in many of the studio’s horror films (The Black Cat, The Strange Case of Dr. Rx, Weird Woman, House of Frankenstein et. al.). She also played the villainous Sonja in the 1940 serial “Flash Gordon Conquers the Universe” and appeared with Abbott and Costello in “Ride ‘Em Cowboy” (1941). Free-lancing after Universal cut her loose in 1945, Gwynne played Tess Trueheart in RKO’s “Dick Tracy Meets Gruesome” (1947). She left films briefly in the mid-1950s, making an undistinguished comeback in “Teenage Monster” (1958), as the mother of the title character.
Gwynne was a television pioneer, appearing in TV’s first filmed series, “Public Prosecutor” (1947-48), 26 mysteries each 17Â½ minutes in running time. When aired, the DuMont Television Network stopped the film before the climax and a live three-member panel would try to guess the identity of the culprit. Other TV stations could buy rights to air this series but usually did not use panelists. As many others before her, TV proved a welcome medium in the 50s as her film career fell away, appearing in guest spots and commercials.
Widowed in 1965, her health began to deteriorate in the 90s and she was forced to move to the Motion Picture Country Home. Anne Gwynne had the looks and talent to be a top star, but not the luck. Nevertheless, she was a game player who screamed with the best of them. She passed away on March 31, 2003 at age 84 in Woodland Hills, California following complications of a stroke following surgery at the Motion Picture Country Hospital.
Height – 5′ 5″
Was one of the top five pin-ups in World War II, according to a February 15, 1943 “Life” magazine article. Others were Dorothy Lamour, Ann Sheridan , Maureen O’Hara and Alexis Smith.
#1 pinup girl for 2 years in the “YANK” magazine for WWII servicemen.
A former “Miss San Antonio”.
Lucille Ball will always be remembered as the crazy, accident-prone, lovable Lucy Ricardo was born Lucille Desiree Ball in Jamestown, New York, on August 6, 1911. Her father died before she was four, and her mother worked several jobs, so she and her younger brother were raised by their grandparents. Always willing to take responsibility for her brother and young cousins, she was a restless teenager who yearned to “make some noise”. She entered a dramatic school in New York, but while her classmate Bette Davis received all the raves, she was sent home; “too shy.” She found some work modeling for Hattie Carnegie’s and, in 1933, she was chosen to be a “Goldwyn Girl” and appear in the film Roman Scandals (1933).
She was put under contract to RKO and several small roles, including one in Top Hat (1935), followed. Eventually, she received starring roles in B-pictures and, occasionally, a good role in an A-picture, like in Stage Door (1937) or The Big Street (1942). While filming Too Many Girls (1940), she met and fell madly in love with a young Cuban actor-musician named Desi Arnaz. Despite different personalities, lifestyles, religions and ages (he was six years younger), he fell hard, too, and after a passionate romance, they eloped and were married in November, 1940. Lucy soon switched to MGM, where she got better roles in films such as Du Barry Was a Lady (1943); Best Foot Forward (1943) and the Katharine Hepburn-Spencer Tracy vehicle Without Love (1945). In 1948, she took a starring role in the radio comedy “My Favorite Husband”, in which she played the scatterbrained wife of a Midwestern banker. In 1950, CBS came knocking with the offer of turning it into a television series. After convincing the network brass to let Desi play her husband and to sign over the rights to and creative control over the series to them, work began on the most popular and universally beloved sitcom of all time.
Cleo Moore was born October 31, 1928 in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Her parents were deeply involved in Democratic politics. Politics, in Louisiana, was an all consuming passion with a lot of families in the 20’s and 30’s.
Cleo began her trek to stardom when she participated in school plays in high school. When she was just 15 years old, Cleo wed Palmer Long, son of the late Huey “Kingfish” Long in 1944. Palmer’s father had been one of the movers and shakers in Louisiana politics for years, first serving as governor and then the U.S. Senate. He was assassinated in 1935 in the state capitol building. (Cleo, herself, was to run for Governor of Louisiana in 1956). The marriage was doomed to fail having lasted a mere six weeks.
After Cleo finished high school, she moved with her family to California where her father was anticipating the end of World War II and the building boom that was expected to follow. Once in sunny California, it didn’t take long to get “discovered”. She was spotted by an RKO executive and was convinced to take a screen test. She passed. Her first film was in a rather non-descript film called “Congo Bill” in 1948. After that fiasco, Cleo went back to work at her family’s building business and did some modeling.
Two years later, in 1950, the shapely blonde appeared in a Western entitled, “Rio Grande Patrol”. She received fifth billing in the movie that got no where. That year proved to busy for Cleo as she appeared in five other films. In “Bright Leaf”, a film about the tobacco industry, was a well-received one even though she had only a small part. “Gambling House” was, somewhat, of a personal breakthrough. Instead of having, basically, unknowns as her co-stars, Cleo had Victor Mature and William Bendix. Then it was back to another substandard flick called “This Side of the Law”. Hard as it was to break into films that really grabbed to public’s attention, Cleo seemed to be destined to stay in B movie roles for the balance of her career. Â She did appear in a good film called “On Dangerous Ground” in 1951 with Ida Lupino and Robert Ryan, but had only a minor part. For an actress who had a wonderful talent, she seemed to be picked because of how her physical attributes played on the screen. Never mind the role. That seemed secondary to the moguls of the studios. She was very beautiful, but Cleo wanted them to look past that and see the talent she possessed. In 1954, Cleo appeared in two more duds, “The Other Woman” and “Bait”. The following year she made two more films, “Hold Back Tomorrow” which was termed strange and “Women’s Prison”. Although a second class movie, it fared well at the box-office because of the subject matter and Cleo. Other than that, it didn’t have a lot going for it. In 1957, Cleo starred in her final film, along with her sister, Mari Lea, called “Hit and Run”. She had star billing, but it was another bomb.
Cleo, then, left films forever. She married a real estate tycoon in 1961 and settled down to a life of being a socialite and domesticity. Cleo had a daughter born in 1963. Less than a week before her 45th birthday, Cleo died of a heart attack on October 25, 1973 in Inglewood, California. To her legions of fans, she remains their favorite sex symbol of the 1950’s and others languish knowing that her talent could have sent her to loftier heights instead of being wasted in minor roles in substandard B pictures.
Measurements: 38-24-36 (in 1954), (Source: Celebrity Sleuth magazine)
Height: 5′ 4Â½” (1.64 m)
Nickname: Queen of the B Movie Bad Girls
Despite being one of the great exotic screen beauties of the early ’40s, Ramsay Ames never broke out of leading roles in B-movies and supporting parts in A-films. She was born Ramsay Phillips on March 30, 1921 in Brooklyn, New York (her reported year of birth varies from 1921 to 1924, depending on the source), and was a student athlete (especially excelling as a swimmer) in high school. She attended the Walter Hillhouse School of Dance, specializing in Latin-style dance, and also took up singing, becoming the vocalist with a top rhumba band. She later became part of a dance team under the name Ramsay Del Rico, and appeared as a model at the Eastman Kodak-sponsored fashion show at the 1939 New York World’s Fair. A back injury sidelined her from dancing and fate intervened: in the course of a trip to California to visit her mother, she had a chance meeting at the airport with Harry Cohn. He was the president of Columbia Pictures and the meeting resulted in a screen test and then her 1943 movie debut, “Two Senoritas From Chicago” (1943). From there she moved to Universal, where she was cast in key roles in movies such as “The Mummy’s Ghost”, in which she was the hapless modern victim of the ancient curse of Kharis the Mummy, and major supporting parts in pictures like “Calling Dr. Death” (1943), “Ali Baba and the 40 Thieves” (1944), and “Follow the Boys” (1944).
With her dark good looks and statuesque, athletic yet attractive physique, Ames was ideal in portrayals of exotic roles, such as the Egyptian student in her Mummy movie and the French and Latin women she often got to play. She was also good in physically demanding action roles. During the mid-’40s, she made a pair of Cisco Kid movies with Gilbert Roland, “The Gay Cavalier” (1946) and “Beauty and the Bandit” (1946). In the first, Ames is credited in some sources with co-authoring one of the songs, and in the second, she brought a good deal of fire and humor to a script that, for the first half, resembled a cowboy version of “As You Like It”.
Ames had small roles in major movies like “Mildred Pierce” (1945) and the epic-length “Green Dolphin Street” (1947), but by the second half of the 1940s she was locked into B-features such as PRC’s low-budget “Philo Vance Returns” (1947) and was also working at Republic in serials such as “The Black Widow” (1947) and “G-Men Never Forget” (1948). She gave up acting and Hollywood at the end of the 1940s and for many years lived in Spain, where she had her own television interview show and occasionally took acting roles in films produced in Europe. Her later movies included the features “Alexander the Great” (1956) and Carol Reed’s 1963 thriller “The Running Man”. She returned to the United States in the early ’60s and was married to playwright Dale Wasserman, best known for Man of La Mancha, until their divorce in 1980. She died of lung cancer on March 30, 1998 in Santa Monica, California.
Irene Manning was born Inez Harvuot on July 17, 1912 in Cincinnati, Ohio in a family of 5 siblings. Her family loved to go on outdoor picnics where the featured activity was group singing. This family environment helped Irene to develop a keen interest in singing at a very early age. Her sisters later complained that little Irene would sing in her sleep, keeping them awake.
While performing with an all-girl USO show in England, Irene was asked to perform with bandleader Glenn Miller shortly before his death in 1944. Miller was involved in making swing records to be broadcast into Nazi Germany as part of the American Broadcasting System in Europe or ABSIE. Because she had been a light opera star prior to World War II and was fluent in singing in German, she was asked to sing some American pop tunes which had been translated into German vocals. Her sides were some of the last records made by Glenn Miller, prior to being lost on an ill-fated flight to Paris over the English Channel in December 1944.
She is probably best remembered as diva “Fay Templeton” in “Yankee Doodle Dandy” (1942) opposite James Cagney. In this film, Irene has a scene in which she has to simultaneously act, sing the song, “Mary,” and play the piano all in the same take. This coordination of multiple talents takes concentration and is very difficult to complete live. Few Hollywood talents have ever executed these skills as well as Irene Manning, who was also a master sight reading musician.
Also briefly known as Hope Manning during her first films, as she broke into the Republic Studio system in 1936. Her first film placed her as the lead actress in a western, “The Old Corral,” opposite Gene Autry. (A young actor, named Dick Weston, later to be known as Roy Rogers, also appeared as a bad guy in this film.) Irene once said in gest that “she had left light opera for a horse opera.” Of note, “The Old Corral” was the only Gene Autry film that ever received a “three star rating,” and it has been voted the most favorite Autry movie by the Gene Autry Fan Club, partly in response to Irene’s sophistication and vocal talent.
By the early 1940s, Irene was employed in the Warner Bros studio system as a contract actress and singer. She was featured in “Yankee Doodle Dandy” (1942), “The Big Shot” (1942) opposite Humphrey Bogart, “Spy Ship” (1942) with Craig Stevens, the “Desert Song” (1943) with Dennis Morgan, and “Shine On Harvest Moon” (1944), co-starring Jack Carson, in addition to offering added glamour in “The Doughgirls” (1944) with Ann Sheridan and Alexis Smith and “Escape in the Desert” (1945) featuring Philip Dorn.
Her contract was picked up by MGM to place her singing skills as a threat to Jeanette MacDonald, who was giving MGM fits over Jeanette’s difficult demands. In private Irene, claimed that she was a better singer. Singing comparisons between Irene Manning and Jeanette MacDonald clearly indicate that Irene’s assessment of her skills is correct. The problem between Jeannette and MGM subsided, and Irene’s contract was dropped without any appearances in a MGM film.
In all, Irene Manning made a dozen films. Although her film career is short, many of her film appearances are notable. In the “Old Corral” she gets to kiss Gene Autry (a rare event). “Yankee Doodle Dandy” is listed as one of the top 100 films of all time. “The Big Shot” is the second rated gangster movie of all time. In “Spy Ship,” Irene plays the role of a female villain who collaborates with the Japanese military, not exactly a popular role during World War II. Probably the best reason to see the film is Keye Luke’s brief appearance as a Japanese cultural envoy, Hiru. Yes, you guessed it, Hiru also is a spy. Keye Luke is most famous for playing the part of Master Po in the American TV Series “Kung Fu” with David Carradine from 1972-1975.
The musical stage took priority in the second half of the 1940s with “The Day Before Spring” on Broadway and both “DuBarry Was a Lady” and “Serenade” in London. She remained in England and appeared on her own BBC TV show, “An American in England” until 1951, when she returned to the United States for TV and nightclub work.
Eventually she retired to teach acting and voice.
She died aged 91 from congestive heart failure at her home on May 28, 2004 in San Carlos, California.
Toured with her own four-woman USO unit, performing for the Air Force and various hospital throughout England.
Toured with Bob Hope during WWII.
Irene married five times and was survived by her five stepchildren from her fifth (and final) marriage to space engineer and Lockheed executive Maxwell Hunter II, who died in 2001.