Thursday, February 19, 2015

Carole At Warner Brothers 1937-1938

In the spring of 1937 eighteen year old Carole auditioned for director Busby Berkeley. He was impressed with her dancing and her beauty. Busby gave her a small role in his musical Varsity Show. Carole appeared as in a few scenes and was featured in the musical finale. Off screen she started a highly publicized romance with Busby. He helped Carole get a contract at Warner Brothers for $50 a week. She was given bit parts in more than a dozen films including Missing Witnesses, Gold Diggers In Paris, Torchy Blane In Panama, and The Patient In Room 18. When her contract ended in 1938 Warner Brothers decided not to renew it. Shortly after her relationship with Busby also ended.

 Carole and Busby Berkeley

Carole and Rosemary Lane in Gold Diggers In Paris

 Carole In Torchy Blane In Panama


 Carole and Suzanne Kaaren in Blondes At Work

Carole in The Patient In Room 18

Carole in The Invisible Menace

 Carole and Sterling Holloway in Varsity Show

 Carole is on the left

Carole is last on the left

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Rex Harrison & The Suicide Inquest

On July 8, 1948 Coroner Ben Brown held an informal inquest to find out what the motive was for Carole's suicide. Rex Harrison arrived at the hearing with his boss Darryl F. Zanuck. When Rex was asked why Carole had taken her life he said. "I'm sorry, but I can't give you any explanation for it at all. We talked about scripts of a new play I had and the possibilities of her playing in it. We also discussed her project of returning to England. I told her I might be able to help." He claimed that she was having financial problems and suffered from an amoebic infection. Carole's maid Fannie Mae Bolden and her best friend Florence Wasson also testified at the hearing. When it was over Coroner Brown told the press "I've gone as far as I can. I have gone to the limits of my authority. The testimony itself revealed no criminal action, and I cannot go further". Carole's family refused to believe that she took her own life. They thought that Rex Harrison was responsible for her death and that he paid the police to cover it up. Her family even hired a private investigator but they were unable to prove he did anything illegal.

Original caption: "Questioned by Dep. Coroner Ira Nance, left, British Actor Rex Harrison denies he knows any motive for the suicide of Carole Landis, whose body he found last Monday. He also said he does not know of any second note left by her."

Rex Harrison talking to Coroner Ben Brown

Original caption: "Mrs. Florence Wasson, former stand-in and friend of Carole Landis, answers 
questions of Dep. Coroner Ira Nance at informal inquiry yesterday."

Original caption: "W. Horace Schmidlapp, husband of Carole Landis, pictured waiting for cab at 
airport on returning to Los Angeles. Her death baffled him."

Carole's death certificate

A clip about Carole from Rex Harrison's A&E documentary

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Having Wonderful Crime

In 1945 Carole starred in the screwball comedy Having Wonderful Crime. She is Helene Justus, a ditzy newlywed who gets involved in a murder mystery while on her honeymoon. Fox loaned her to RKO to make the movie. George Murphy plays Helene's husband Jake Justus who helps her solve a crime involving a missing magician and a check for $50,000. She and George also costarred in the 1942 comedy The Powers Girl. The cast includes Pat O'Brien, Chili Williams, and Lenore Aubert. Carole was close friends with Pat O'Brien and his wife Eloise. She and Pat had worked together before in This Woman Is Dangerous and Secret Command. Having Wonderful Crime was based on the book by Craig Rice. 
The movie was directed by Carole's friend Eddie Sutherland who would later be a pallbearer at her funeral. The costumes were designed by Edward Stevenson. Having Wonderful Crime was made as a low budget B-movie. It was filmed on location in Del Monte, Carmel, and Malibu Lake. Filming began on April 25, 1944 and ended on July 1. During this time Carole was having marital problems and she was hospitalized after a suicide attempt. Having Wonderful Crime was released on April 12, 1945. The tagline for the film was "When a body meets a body...in a trunk". Unfortunately the movie was not a box-office hit. Although it got mostly bad reviews some critics said that Carole gave one of her best performances.

Lenore Aubert and Carole

Pat O'Brien, Carole, and George Murphy

Lenore Aubert and Carole 

Pat O'Brien, George Murphy, and Carole

George Murphy, Carole, and Pat O'Brien

Courtesy of Joe

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Carole and Tommy Wallace's Love Story

On January 5, 1943 Carole married Captain Thomas Wallace in London, England. He was a twenty-five year old Air Force pilot from Pasadena. Tommy had been part of the English Royal Air Force's American "Eagle Squadron". She met him on November 13, 1942 when she was entertaining soldiers in England. Carole said "Something hit me right in the heart. I only looked at him for a minute, but I saw his wonderful dimples, his tremendously expressive eyes, his curly hair." He proposed on their first date but she waited several weeks before agreeing to marry him. Tommy couldn't get an engagement ring so he gave her his signet ring. She had wanted to get married on January 1, her 24th birthday, but it was against British law. The wedding was almost canceled when she suffered an appendicitis attack in December 1942. She recovered in time for the ceremony and the doctor who removed her appendix gave her away.  While getting ready at the Savoy hotel Carole said she was "nervous". This was her third marriage and Kay Francis tried to convince her to cancel the wedding. Carole wore a cream colored satin dress designed by Hartnell, a strand of pearls, and orange blossoms in her hair. Her bouquet was made of white carnations and orchids. The ceremony took place at 2:00 PM at the Church of Our Lady Of Assumption on Warrick Street. Tommy was a Presbyterian but he agreed to have a Catholic ceremony. He told reporters "I am probably the luckiest man in the world". Tommy's friend Gus Daymond was his best man and Mitzi Mayfair was the maid of honor. Mitzi had collected ration coupons so Carole could get her dress and shoes.

The ceremony was performed by Father Waterkeyn and Father Harris. Hundreds of fans and photographers waited outside the church to see the bride and groom. Carole said "I want to have a wonderful marriage and children whom I may love and make a fuss over long after the movies are gone." She wrote about their romance in her book Four Jills In A Jeep and the wedding was recreated in the 1944 film. The large wedding cake was actually made of cardboard with a small white cake inside. They had no honeymoon because Carole went to North Africa three days after the wedding to perform for the troops. Tommy was stationed overseas during most of their marriage so they spent very little time together. She wrote to him every day they were apart and kept six photos of him in her bedroom. They finally took a honeymoon trip to New York City in September 1943. Tommy hated her Hollywood lifestyle and wanted her to give up her career to become a housewife. Carole was also very disappointed that they didn't have children. When their marriage started to fall apart she attempted suicide. The couple separated in October 1944 and were divorced the following year. Carole always considered Tommy the great love of her life. In an interview she said "No woman ever loved a man more than I loved Tommy Wallace. And Tommy loved me, too. All my life, above all the rest, I want to remember that." Tommy married his second wife Joanne in 1946. They moved to England and had two sons. He served in the Air Force during the Korean war and later worked for Goodyear. Tragically in 1968 Tommy was killed in an accidental shooting.

* We want to thank Tommy's family for giving us information about his life after Carole *

This is a newsreel about Carole and Tommy's wedding

Friday, January 9, 2015

It Shouldn't Happen To A Dog

In 1946 Carole starred in the comedy It Shouldn't Happen To A Dog. She plays a detective who solves crimes with the help of her doberman. The cast includes Allyn Joslyn, Henry Morgan, Jean Wallace, and Rodney the dog. You can watch the entire movie here ....

 With Allyn Joslyn

 With Allyn Joslyn

With Rodney the dog

 With Allyn Joslyn

With Allyn Joslyn

 On the set with Rodney