Monday, February 8, 2016

Carole In England (1947-1948)


In August of 1947 Carole traveled to London, England to make two movies for Eagle-Lion Studios - Brass Monkey and Noose. At the time she was unhappily married to Horace Schmidlapp and having an affair with actor Rex Harrison. Horace decided to stay in New York City but Rex followed Carole to London. Their affair continued and got more serious even though Rex's wife, Lilli Palmer, came with him. Carole filmed Brass Monkey at Twickenhan Studios and stayed at the Savoy Hotel with her poodle Gina. She lived in England for nearly six months and fell in love with the country.

Carole said "The people are wonderful. The like me for myself". When she wasn't working Carole went to many parties, visited the zoo, and spent time with her close friend Lt. Troy who had been injured during the war. She was so busy that during her first two months there she lost eleven pounds. On November 25 Carole participated in a charity performance of The Bishop's Wife for King George and Queen Elizabeth. After the show she attended a star-studded party with Bob Hope, Loretta Young, Rex Harrison, and Lilli Palmer.

In January of 1948 Carole was featured on the cover of the British magazine Film Illustrated Monthly. Horace came to visit her but they only spent a few days together. She finished filming Noose in February and returned to California. Lana Turner had been renting her Pacific Palisades home while she was away. Carole filed for divorce and the press began to gossip about her close relationship with Rex. She told reporters that she planned to return to England in August to make The Amazing Mr. X. Sadly Carole would take her own life just a few weeks before she was supposed to leave.

With her poodle Gina

At the London zoo

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 pilot and part of the Royal Air Force's American "Eagle Squadron". Carole met him on November 13, 1942 when she was entertaining soldiers in England. She 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."  Thomas Cherry Wallace was born in Oakdale, Pennsylvania in 1917. After his father died in 1933 he moved to Pasadena with his mother. Tommy worked as a bank clerk before joining the Air Force.

He proposed to Carole on their first date and gave her his signet ring. The wedding was almost cancelled when Carole suffered an appendicitis a week before the ceremony. She recovered and asked the doctor who removed her appendix to give her away. The Catholic ceremony took place at the Church of Our Lady Of Assumption on Warrick Street. Carole wore a cream colored satin dress designed by Norman Hartnell, a strand of pearls, and orange blossoms in her hair. Her bouquet was made of white carnations and orchids. Mitzi Mayfair and Kay Francis were among the guests. Hundreds of fans waited outside the church to see the bride and groom. Tommy told reporters "I am probably the luckiest man in the world".



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 newlyweds had no honeymoon because Carole traveled 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. Tommy hated her Hollywood lifestyle and wanted her to give up her career to become a housewife.

When their marriage started to fall apart Carole 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 *

Rex Harrison & The Suicide Inquest

On July 8, 1948, three days after Carole's death, Coroner Ben Brown held an informal inquest to find out what the motive was for her 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. 

 Rex Harrison talking to Coroner Ben Brown

Carole's mother Clara Ridste

Carole's maid Fannie Mae Bolden told the coroner that she found out Carole was dead when Rex arrived at the house. She said "Then we both went upstairs. He put his hand on her and said I feel a little life." Carole's close friend Florence Wasson testified that she saw a second note at the house. She believed the note was about the cat, Miss C, being sick. However Carole's mother, Clara Ridste, said the cat was healthy. Unfortunately the second note disappeared and it is rumored Rex Harrison paid a police officer $500 to destroy it.

Carole's friend Florence Wasson

 Carole's healthy cat Miss C

When the hearing 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 bribed 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."

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

Carole's death certificate

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

Sunday, January 31, 2016

Cadet Girl * Offering $1000 For A Copy *

In 1941 Carole starred in the musical Cadet Girl. She plays Gene Baxter, a singer who falls in love with a West Point cadet. The cast includes George Montgomery, John Shepperd, Jania Carter, and Chick Chandler. It was directed by Ray McCarey. Carole sings several songs in the movie including "You Started Something". During filming she and George Montgomery started dating. Unfortunately Cadet Girl is not available on DVD and it has not been shown on television since the 1970s. There is a print in UCLA's archives but it can only be seen by request. The movie was also screened at Cinecon in 2010.

*** We will pay $1000 (one thousand dollars) for a complete copy of Cadet Girl !!! If you have a DVD, VHS, 16mm print, or ANY information please email us @ ClassicActress@gmail.com ***

With George Montgomery

With Chick Chandler

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Carole's Husbands & Lovers

Here is Carole's first husband Irving Kay Wheeler. He was a twenty year old civilian conservation corps worker. Irving eloped with fifteen year old Carole on January 14, 1934. When her mother found out she had the marriage annulled. On August 25, 1934 the couple got married again. This time they had the consent of Carole's father.  She and Irving only lived together for three weeks before they separated. Irving eventually went to Hollywood and became an actor using the name Jack Roberts. In 1938 he sued Carole's boyfriend Busby Berkeley for $250,000 claiming "alienation of affection". The suit was dismissed and Carole officially divorced him in 1939. She said "I didn't think anyone knew I'd ever been married. I thought Irving had forgotten our marriage, too. We lived together for three weeks and then had an argument. I've only seen him once since then, and that was when he told me he wanted a divorce." Carole got Irving a job as a stand-in on her 1942 film A Gentleman In Heart. In 1954 Irving was arrested outside a nightclub on a narcotics charge. At the time he was on parole for another drug charge and was using the name Irving Decker.

Here is Carole with Willis Hunt Jr, her second husband. Willis was a twenty-eight year old yacht salesman from a wealthy family. He was divorced from heiress Dolly Brewer and had a reputation as a playboy who loved to party. Willis proposed to Carole two weeks after meeting her. She said "We like to do the same things. I think it will work". On July 4, 1940 they eloped in Las Vegas. He became abusive and she walked out on him two months later. They were divorced in November 1940 and Carole claimed it made her suffer a nervous breakdown. She told reporters "There I was being so happy, so ecstatic, so delirious, so willing to forsake all others. To stop being Miss Big and try being the Little Woman. He didn't want a Little Woman." Surprisingly Carole and Willis remained friends and continued to go out together. In 1969 Willis was stabbed to death by his wife at the age of fifty-five. His wife was charged with murder but she was acquitted.

Here is Carole with Horace Schmidlapp, her fourth husband. Horace was a twenty-nine year old Broadway producer from a rich family. Carole called him "Poppie". They were introduced by her friend Jacqueline Susann. Carole and Horace were married on December 8, 1945 and honeymooned in Cuba. She said "He's my definition of an ideal husband. In Horace I've found a man instead of a boy". Carole lived with him in New York City for a while but they spent much of their marriage apart. In an interview she said  "I have now what I've always wanted in a marriage. I have the feeling of a deep security which will insure a permanent future with children of our own. I have a home now, not merely a house. My husband has a solid sense of values and brings out the best in me. We're already planning a home in the East with at least three children. When this happens, I'll commute to Hollywood for my picture assignments." Carole began having an affair with Rex Harrison and filed for divorce in March 1948. After Carole's death Horace fought with her family over her estate. He later dated Lana Turner and Sheree North. Horace died in 1987 at the age of seventy-one.

Here is Carole with her fiance Busby Berkeley. He was one of Hollywood's most successful choreographers. They met in 1937 when she auditioned for a role in Varsity Show and he helped her get a contract with Warner Brothers. Busby was twenty-three years older than Carole and had been married several times. Although their romance got her a lot of attention she publicly claimed they were not dating. Carole said "Mr. Berkeley and I are good friends, but we certainly aren't in love". Her first husband, Irving Wheeler, sued Busby for $250,000 for "alienation of affection" but lost the case. Busby was an alcoholic and his mother did not like Carole. He broke up with her in 1938. She would later comment "I think Busby is a very grand person and I have the highest regard for him. I do hope someday he'll meet the right person to bring him happiness as a life companion. I wasn't the right person." Busby died in 1976 at the age of eighty.

Here is Carole with her fiance Gene Markey. He was a screenwriter and producer. Gene was twenty-three years older than her and had been married to Hedy Lamar. Carole started dating him in early 1941 but she continued to see other men.  She said "Gene Markey gives me books of plays to read, books about the theater; he talks to me about the theater and gives me the feeling we are talking about it". Gene gave Carole her beloved Great Dane Donner. Their relationship got serious in 1942 and they were engaged for a short time. When the press announced they were getting married in Washington Carole told them "I'm going to Washington for a visit, that's all. Mr. Markey is there and of course I will see him, but there are no immediate plans to announce." Soon after they parted as friends. In 1946 Gene married Myrna Loy. He died on May 1, 1980 at the age of eighty-four.

Here is Carole with her boyfriend Franchot Tone. They had a very serious romance in 1940 and remained close friends.

Here is Carole with her boyfriend art director Cedric Gibbons. They dated for a few months in 1941.

Here is Carole with her attorney Greg Bautzer. They had a brief fling in 1942.

Here is Carole with actor George Montgomery. They became a couple in 1941 when they worked together on Cadet Girl.

Here is Carole with her boyfriend Tony Martin. They went out on several dates in 1942.

 Here is Carole with writer Kenny Morgan. They were rumored to be engaged in 1939.

Here is Carole with her longtime lover George Jessel. They had an on-again off-again affair that lasted for years.