This is an online encyclopedia of personalities of Old Time Radio. It is designed for educational and entertainment purposes.

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Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Alan Reed (1907-77)

Edward Bergman was born August 20, 1907, in New York City. He graduated from Columbia University with a bachelor's degree in journalism. When he graduated, he ended up with a career in entertainment, first as a radio announcer, under his real name, Teddy Bergman. This led to a brief career on Broadway. He was able to speak with 22 different dialects. The money was in radio in the 1930s. He was able to use two different identities: Teddy Bergman was the name he used if he was acting in serious roles and Alan Reed was used for comedic ones. Comedy won out and that became his identity for life.

He was on Eddie Cantor, Fred Allen, and Edgar Bergen. He was based in New York until the mid 1940s, when he moved to California. This ended up leading to a new career in voice acting in cartoons, as well as live action television and motion pictures.

On radio he is best remembered for the part of Falstaff on Fred Allen, Pasquale on Life with Luigi, and Mr. Clyde on My Friend Irma.

In his personal life, he was married to Finnette Walker in 1932. They had a son, Edward Bergman, Jr. (born in 1936), who was also known as Alan Reed, Jr. He was one of the actors who played Chester A. Riley, Jr., on The Life of Riley. He did a lot of television in the 1950s and 60s.

In 1960, he was cast with three other OTR stars to head up the cast of an adult cartoon series for Bill Hanna and Joe Barbera, The Flintstones (the original sponsors were Winston cigarettes). The other stars were Mel Blanc, Jean Vander Pyl, and Bea Benaderet. The initial run of the series was six years. There were also motion pictures and follow up series. He continued working on the cartoon series until he died on June 14, 1977, in Los Angeles. His body was donated to the School of Medicine of Loma Linda University in Loma Linda, California.

Hanley Stafford (1899-1968)

Alfred John Austin was born September 22, 1899, in Hanley, Staffordshire, England. When he moved to America in the 1920s and on to Hollywood, he used the name of his birthplace to create his stage name.

He worked hard to create a perfect American accent. He had an incredible speaking voice... so refined. In the 1930s, he performed as an actor or announcer on many programs. He was on Popeye, Flash Gordon, Calling All Cars, Jungle Jim, and many, many others.

It was thought, since he was English he could play the part of a police inspector on the radio serial, The Shadow of Fu Manchu. Unfortunately, he had worked so hard to lose his English accent, it was gone. But since all of the other actors on the series were American.

He made a name for himself as Daddy on the Baby Snooks radio program with Fanny Brice. Before this, he was
Snapper Snick Crocodile on the Cinnamon Bear.

In the 1940s, he began acting in movies, including some which were filmed in the United Kingdom. In the 1950s, after the death of Fanny Brice, he worked some in television. He married Veola Vonn in 1940.

Hanley Stafford died at his home in Hollywood on September 9, 1968, of a heart attack. He was only 67 years old. He is buried at Forest Lawn Cemetery in Glendale (in a mausoleum) with his mother. After he died, his wife married fellow radio actor Frank Nelson. Both Veola and Frank are also entombed in the same crypt, along with his mother, who died in 1961.

Cary Grant (1904-86)

Archibald Alec Leach was born January 18, 1904, in Horfield, Bristol, England. His was a miserable childhood. His mother was mentally ill, having gone through a mental breakdown of the stillbirth of a child before him. She never got over that. His father took another woman and told the young boy that his mother took a long trip and would never return. He never knew what happened to her but, in the 1930s, would find her still alive, institutionalized in Bristol. In 1914, he was expelled from the Fairfield Grammar School. Six years later, he joined the Bob Pender Stage Troupe, which was going on a tour of the United States. This was a group which did all kinds of entertainment. Young "Archie" did it all, including athletic stunts. When the troupe returned to England in 1922, Archie decided to stay. He was now 18 years old.

He was in New York and had a distinguished career as a Broadway stage actor. He continued to use the name Archibald "Archie" Leach until 1931, when he went to Hollywood and got a contract with Paramount Pictures. He had originally wanted to go by the name, Cary Lockwood. He was told that sounded too close to another actor. He came up with the name Cary Grant, since it had the letters C and G, like Clark Gable and Gary Cooper.

Cary Grant was under contract to Paramount, Metro Goldwyn Mayer, and RKO. Alfred Hitchcock remarked that Cary was the only actor Hitchcock ever liked. While in his motion picture acting glory days, Cary made a number of radio shows, mostly for CBS. He did several episodes of the Lux Radio Theater. Then there were the other motion picture radio shows of the same kind. In the 1950s, his movie Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House (1948) was turned into one of the last great radio situation comedies. It was the only OTR show this writer can think of that was sponsored by an airline, TWA (Trans World Airlines).

Lucille Fletcher (1912-2000)

Violet Lucille Fletcher was born March 28, 1912, in Brooklyn, New York. Her parents were Matthew Emerson Fletcher, a marine draftsman, and the former Violet Anderson, a homemaker. She graduated from Erasmus Hall High School in 1929 and then went to Vassar College, which was a women's university at that time. She earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in English in 1933, then took a $15 a week job as clerk-typist for CBS radio in New York City. At CBS, she met a musician by the name of Bernard Herrmann. They dated for four years. Her family didn't like "Benny" because of his abrasive personality. They also didn't care too much for the idea that he was Jewish and the Fletchers were longtime Episcopalians and didn't want their daughter to change her religion because of a boyfriend. Lucille's father suffered a stroke in 1938 which paralyzed him for his remaining eleven years. The couple saw this as a way to get married, which they did.

Benny and Lucille married on October 2, 1939. The marriage wasn't one of the happiest, since the couple worked together at virtually the same hours. Lucille was a writer at heart. She spent a few days writing a story about a man who drove across the United States and was shadowed by the same hitchhiker everywhere. Benny showed the story to actor Orson Welles, who showed it to the production staff for the series Suspense! The episode, "The Hitchhiker", aired on September 2, 1942. Orson Welles was Ron Adams who drove from Manhattan to Los Angeles on business. It was repeated several times on Suspense! and other series. The story changed her status at CBS from clerk-typist to scriptwriter. She wrote many other scripts, including another for Suspense!, "Sorry, Wrong Number", which also became a hit motion picture, for which she also wrote the script. "The Hitchhiker" was also revised as an episode of TV's The Twilight Zone, featuring Leonard Strong (1908-80) in the role of the Hitchhiker and Inger Stevens (1934-70) in the Orson Welles part as Nan Adams.

Lucille's parents were right about Benny. His abrasive personality did make living difficult, especially since they both worked at the same place. When production of the Suspense! show moved to Los Angeles, Benny went, partly because he had already gone with Orson Welles to do scoring for a few of his movies. But Lucille decided to stay in New York... actually she lived in New Jersey. Since they lived apart, Benny went to Reno to get a proxy divorce in 1948. Actually, this didn't do much to upset the life of Lucille, who had two daughters with Benny: Dorothy (born June 27, 1941) and Wendy (born October 18, 1945). They were doing fine without a father and a husband. Lucille and Benny had been working on an opera together, for which Benny wrote the music and Lucille wrote the book. By the time they got started with Wuthering Heights, Benny's quickie divorce he got in Reno, Nevada, became effective.

In a few short months after that, Lucille married Washington, DC, native John Douglass Wallop, III (born 1920), in January 1949, whose only claim to fame was writing the story, book, play, and screenplay for a musical called Damn Yankees! in 1955. Douglass Wallop and Lucille were a happy couple and she spent the rest of her life writing nine mystery novels at her homes in suburban Philadelphia, where she moved from the Washington, DC, area after Douglass's death in 1985. Her daughter, Dorothy, became a famous author. Lucille died in Langhorne, Pennsylvania, on August 31, 2000, of a stroke at her home. She was 88 years old.

One of her novels, Presumed Dead, was condensed by Reader's Digest in 1963. The inside biographic blurb about her life reads as follows:
Born and raised in Brooklyn, New York, Lucille Fletcher graduated from Vassar College and went to work as a typist for CBS.

Jan Ford (1929- )

Helen Luella Koford was born January 7, 1929, in Glendale, California. She grew up in a very strict Mormon (Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints) household. Helen worked as a child model before breaking into movies in 1940. As an actress, she worked under the names of Judy Ford, Jan Ford, and Helen Koford. It was under the name Jan Ford in which she is known on radio (Jan was short for January and Ford was shortened from her last name, Kofford). She did a radio show called The Smiths of Hollywood. When the program was done as a pilot (The Smiths of the San Fernando Valley), the part of Shirley "Bumps" Smith was done by Barbara Jean Wong. Barbara Jean was busy with other projects, so "Jan Ford" was called upon to do the part of ten year old Bumps (Helen was 18 and Barbara Jean was 24 at this time). She was in the process of finishing high school and this allowed her to act without missing any school or school activities.

In 1948, she took the new stage name of Terry Moore. Despite her strict Mormon upbringing, she was marketed as a sex symbol. Her first movie under her new monicker was first used in Mighty Joe Young, a remake of King Kong (1933). It was during this time that Terry Moore (we'll use that name for the rest of the story) claimed that she married wealthy industrialist Howard Hughes. No one can prove that did or didn't happen but, after Hughes' death, Terry received a sizable settlement. She was married to five other men, despite never having a divorce from Howard Hughes. Her first of these marriages was to former West Point football star Glenn Davis. Her last husband was Jerry Rivers, who died in 2001, leaving her a widow. She has two children from her marriage to Stuart Cramer, one being actor Grant Cramer.

After her name change, Terry had an impressive radio career, being heard on Bob Hope, Family Theater, and several episodes of the Lux Radio Theater.

In 1984, Terry posed nude for Playboy magazine, probably the only OTR star to do so. She was 55 years old.

Terry Moore continues to act in movies to the present. She is now 79 years old.

Jim Jordan (1896-1988)

James Edward Jordan was born November 16, 1898, on a farm outside Peoria, Illinois. He grew up on the farm (the area is now located within the city limits of Peoria). He grew up with a girl named Marian Driscoll, whom he met at St. John's Catholic Church. Marian taught Sunday school and both were involved in the church choir. They always knew they would get married. Jim graduated from Peoria Central High School (on the radio program, the Jordans often referred to their alma mater as Peoria Union High School, as "union" was a common inclusion for the name of a high school in which it served a large area in California, where the program was performed after early 1939) in 1914 and worked on the farm, courting Marian and seeing her at church. They also began working on singing songs and telling jokes, which would become their livelihood as a couple in years to come.

In 1917, Jim was drafted into the Army. He was sent to France and was one of the few soldiers at that time to rise to the rank of sergeant in just a few months, then he was wounded. He returned to the United States in July 1918 and he married Marian on August 31.

The couple embarked on a show business career that began with Vaudeville. Jim was always the joker and Marian was the straight man. After the birth of their first child, they were longing to do work which would keep them in one place. Jim was a hard worker but knew, from growing up at the farm, he didn't have the necessary skills to do most jobs to support a family. In 1925, they began working on radio station WENR in Chicago to do several comedic programs. In 1930, their program Smackout over NBC nationwide. The program was sold to S.C. Johnson & Sons (Johnson's Wax) in 1935 and became Fibber McGee and Molly.

The program started out in 1935. Marian had long had a drinking problem, as her father also did. She was a driven person who never felt supported. Jim, in private life, had an abrasive personality which wasn't anything like the jovial Fibber McGee. They never would divorce, or its Roman Catholic counterpart, annul their marriage. They wouldn't even think of separating, for the sake of their children. What they did was send Marian to an alcoholic treatment center outside Chicago in 1938. The NBC network began moving shows from Chicago to Illinois. The only program that ended up not moving was The Breakfast Club.

Molly returned to the show in early 1939. Within ten months, Fibber McGee and Molly became the most popular comedy program in the country. The show lost its sponsorship by Johnson Wax in 1950. Then its sponsors were Pet Milk and Reynolds Aluminum. Marian became gravely ill in 1952, which proved to be terminal cancer. The program was moved from Radio City West in Hollywood to the Jordans' home in Encino in the West San Fernando Valley. The program then aired every day for 15 minutes. Previously, it was heard on Tuesday nights.

The daily programs aired for three years. Then the McGees/Jordans began doing short sketches on the 48 hour weekend variety program, Monitor on NBC, until 1960. Marian then retired. She died in April 1961. One year later, Jim married Gretchen Stewart, a much younger woman who was not a show business performer.

Over the years while married to Marian, Jim only did one character who was a grocery store manager on Smackout and a happily married man on Fibber McGee and Molly, as well as the handful of movies the Jordans made together. In 1976, he did a sitcom, Chico and the Man. Then, he did the part of Orville the albatross in the Disney cartoon feature, The Rescuers (1977).

The last twelve years of his life were spent in obscurity, just as he wanted. He had moved to a house in Beverly Hills, where he died of a blood clot to the brain on April 1, 1988. Jim is buried next to Marian at the Holy Cross Cemetery in Culver City, California. Gretchen remarried to someone else.

The Marx Brothers

Samuel Marks, born Simon Marrix (1861-1933), was a tailor in New York City, who emigrated to the United States in the 1870s from Alsace, France. In 1885, he married Minnie Schoenberg, born Miene Schönberg (1865-1929), who emigrated in 1879 from Dornum, Germany. Soon after they married, Sam and Minnie adopted her sister Hannah's illegitimate daughter, Pauline, so the couple set their wedding date back two years. The couple had six sons of their own, five of whom would survive into childhood. Sometime in the early part of the twentieth century, Sam "Frenchie" Marks changed the spelling of the family name from Marks to Marx. Minnie, using the stage name Minnie Palmer, became their sons' manager in show business. She never got to see how successful her sons became and, in reality, her husband also never got to see this either.

Here is a list of the six Marx brothers:

Manfred Marks was born in January 1886 in New York City. He died on July 17, 1886.

Chico Marx was born Leonard Marks on March 22, 1887, in New York City. His nickname was originally spelled Chicko, because he was always running after pretty girls. A typesetter missed putting in the K, and that spelling stuck. His name should retain that pronunciation and not Cheek-o. Chico's gimmick was that he was to look like a shady Italian. He had an unorthodox way of playing the piano, which involved shooting keys like pistols. Chico was in several radio programs with his brother Groucho in the 1930s. Married twice, he had two big addictions in his life: gambling and women. He died October 11, 1961, from heart disease.

Harpo Marx was born Adoph Marks on November 23, 1888, in New York City. When he was in the second grade his teacher told him never to return to school again. He never did. In 1911 his name was changed to Arthur. In the Marx Brothers act, Harpo never spoke. He often whistled or honked a bicycle horn. He used the name Harpo because he played the harp. He also played the clarinet. He played both of these instruments in unusual manners. In 1936, he married actress Susan Fleming (1908-2002). They had a storybook marriage with four children. They were the most successful couple of the Marx Brothers acting team. Because of Harpo's persona of not speaking, he was rarely noticed in public. He died after open heart surgery on September 28, 1964, in Los Angeles. His body was cremated and the ashes were spread over the sand trap of the seventh hole of the Rancho Mirage Golf Course in Rancho Mirage, California. The joke was that he never got out of that trap when he was playing a game. And he wouldn't get out of it in death!

Groucho Marx was born Julius Henry Marks on October 2, 1890, in New York City. Julius was the most successful of the boys with regards to his schooling. He always modestly considered himself an intellectual. It was his ambition to be a doctor. Of course, this was never to be. The family was poor and, on his mother's side of the family, there was a background in entertainment. He never made it into high school. In 1905, with his brothers Leonard and Adolph, and another boy named Lou Levy, they had an act called "The Four Nightingales." It involved singing and jokes with foreign dialects. The act was only modestly successful. Eventually, the group would include brother Milton (Gummo). They "paid their dues" by acting all over the United States. Gummo left the act and was replaced by kid brother Zeppo. They met with success back home in New York on Broadway with their show, The Cocoanuts. This, in 1929, became their first successful motion picture (they earlier made an experimental film, Humor Risk (1926). Groucho later claimed that the movie was so bad that he destroyed all the prints himself. Eventually, the Four Marx Brothers made four more movies for Paramount (Animal Crackers, Monkey Business, Horse Feathers, and Duck Soup). Most Marx aficionados, who call themselves Marxists (including the author of this 'blog, who also happens to be a conservative Republican), consider the Paramount movies to be the Marxes' greatest achievements. The Cocoanuts was filmed in New York City but the rest of their films were done in California. In 1933, the brothers cut a deal with Metro Goldwyn Mayer. Zeppo left the act by this time. The act was now big time. In 1936, the MGM producer Irving Thalberg (1899-1936) died of pneumonia at the age of 37. Thalberg was a great communicator and organizer. Many feel his death led to the accelerated decline of the Marx Brothers and many other actors at MGM. The brothers continued working at MGM until 1939, when they were let go from the contract and became free agents. The boys went separate ways. Groucho's gimmick was being the smart aleck. He had a painted mustache and painted eyebrows. In real life, all the brothers, except Gummo, looked pretty much alike. In 1946, the American Broadcasting Company (ABC) wanted Groucho to be a game show host. He had done several radio series during World War II, including his own series, Pabst Blue Ribbon Town. He was going through his first divorce (he'd ultimately have three; he was married three times). He need some money. So You Bet Your Life aired from 1947 to 1957 on radio (ABC, CBS, and NBC) and from 1950 to 1961 on NBC television. It is said to be the last production shot at the old Radio City West at the corner of Sunset Boulevard and Vine Street in Hollywood. The producers wanted Groucho to wear the greasepaint mustache and eyebrows he wore in the movies. He refused but compromised by growing a real mustache. This later confused children who saw him on TV wearing a real one and in movies with a painted one. In his last two decades, Groucho was mostly a talk show guest and gave comedic performances. In his last days he was taken care of by Erin Fleming (1941-2003), which was actually a love affair. She committed suicide at the age of 61. Groucho died in Los Angeles on August 19, 1977, at the age of 86, making him the longest lived. Most people don't remember the day as it happened three days after Elvis Presley died.

Gummo Marx was born Milton Marks on October 23, 1893, in New York City. Gummo got his nickname because he was sneaky, like a detective (gumshoe). He was a part of the brothers' act until he was drafted into the US Army just a few months before World War I, so he served his time in the United States. He was the only one of the Marx Brothers who was a serviceman. After he returned from duty, he followed in his father's footsteps and went into dressmaking. When his brothers became successful in California, he became their agent. He then became the agent for many other Hollywood actors. Gummo was married to Helen von Tilzer for 48 years. He died in Palm Springs, California, on April 21, 1977, at the age of 83.

Zeppo Marx was born Herbert Manfred Marks on February 25, 1901, in New York City. Zeppo was forced into the family act after big brother Gummo was drafted into the Army. He was the only one who didn't have a weird character and said to be the brother with the best singing voice. He didn't quite have the sense of humor his brothers had and admitted it himself. He would smile just thinking of brother Groucho. Zeppo idolized Groucho so much that he could imitate him so well that Groucho thought it was better than himself! When the Marx Brothers finished their work with Paramount in 1932 and joined Metro Goldwyn Mayer, Zeppo decided to join his brother Gummo as a Hollywood agent. In their movie ads, Groucho would say, "We're twice as funny without Zeppo." That actually didn't hurt Zeppo's feelings at all. He wasn't happy as an actor. Zeppo was a mechanical person. He was good with fixing cars. Eventually, he started a company, the Marman Products Company, in Inglewood, California, in 1941. The company manufactured a variety of technical products, including the clamps that held the atomic bombs to the Enola Gay, which destroyed Hiroshima at the end of World War II. After the war, the company developed a motorcycle, the Marman Twin, a two cycle job that appeared in 1948. Wikipedia states that the company now exists as the Aeroquip Company, however, this is not true. Zeppo was married twice. The first time was to Marion Benda. They married in 1927 and divorced in 1954. The second was to Barbara Blakeley. They married in 1959 and divorced in 1973. Zeppo Marx died of lung cancer in Palm Springs, California, on November 30, 1979. He was 78 years old.

The legacy of the Marx Brothers is legendary. Too many people who have never seen what they did are too quick to put it in the same category as the Three Stooges, who couldn't do what they did on radio because it was all based on sight humor. That isn't to say what the Stooges did was bad. It was just different.

Friday, April 04, 2008

Iva Toguri (1916-2006)

Ikuko Toguri (戸栗郁子) was born July 4, 1916, in Los Angeles, California. She was given the English language name "Iva," which is pronounced, "EE-vuh." Iva's parents were Jun, a merchant, was born in Japan but came to the United States by way of Canada, and Fumi, who came from Japan to become Jun's wife in 1913. Her father was a merchant. There were three children in the Toguri family. She lived in

Iva was a Girl Scout and an honor student at Los Angeles High School. She went to UCLA and earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Zoology in 1941. It was her dream to become a doctor. But, after finishing college, Iva's mother got word that one of her sisters in Tokyo was not well and it was the responsibility for the oldest child to go visit. Iva also had dreams of medical school and she thought, even though she couldn't speak Japanese, that she could attend school in Japan. After all, medicine is medicine, right?

Before securing a passport, Iva went to a ship office in San Pedro to secure a ticket to Tokyo. The ticket was amazingly inexpensive... she couldn't have gotten a rail ticket on the Coast Daylight to San Francisco that cheap! Next, she went to the passport office. When asking where she was going, she proudly said, "Tokyo, Japan!"

The official said, "Really, young lady? Do you know what's going on in Japan right now? Japan wants to take over the rest of Asia. I wouldn't be surprised if the United States will be at war by the end of the year." He looked at her thoughtfully. "Did you already buy a ticket?"

"Yes, sir."

"I bet it was really cheap."

"Yes. It was."

"Well, I'll tell you what... This office can't give you a passport to go to Japan but we can give you a foreign identification card. I need a photograph and your birth certificate."

Iva gave the man the things he asked for. In less than thirty minutes he came back with a very official looking document that looked like it could fit in her wallet. He explained that it worked just like a passport. When she would get to Yokohama, all she would do is show the card and they'd let her in. No questions asked.

She left on July 5, 1941, the day after her 25th birthday. The ship, the Arabia Maru, was actually attacked on the way to Japan by Japanese military airplanes.

When arriving in Japan, she tried to find her aunt's house. She tried looking in the phone directory, which was written in Japanese. She spent almost a week looking until she got the idea to go to a police station.

"Can you help me? I need to find my aunt..."

The police sergeant at the front desk was a little puzzled looking.

"Oh.. You don't speak English?"

He spoke up... "Yes, I do. But what are you doing here? You're American, right?"

"Is Japan at war with the United States?"

"Not yet..."

She looked startled at the man. And then she gave him the name of her aunt. He looked up the name and she was taken there in a police car. The aunt seemed fine. She didn't look sick at all. Her mother looked sicker than this! Iva proved to be more of a pain to her family in Japan than help. She couldn't speak Japanese. So she couldn't work. She'd spend hours a day playing the piano and listening to English language broadcasts on the short-wave radio. Now the real trick was to figure how to get back home. She knew she was unwelcome. How would this work out?

The Japanese Imperial Navy attacked Honolulu at 3:50 am on Monday, December 8, 1941, Tokyo time. At around 6:00 am, there was a rude knock on the door. Iva was still sleeping on the floor in the living room, where she always slept. The police said that she could no longer stay with her relatives. Her personal belongings were placed in two cardboard boxes and the police took her to the "red light district" of Tokyo, where they didn't care what happened to her. She had no money and no friends and she couldn't speak Japanese. The first thing she did was ask around to see if she could find somewhere to live. Next, she asked the same people where she could learn how to speak Japanese. She took a course in Japanese and spoke enough that she could understand simple instructions.When Jimmy Doolittle's (1896-1993) squadron raided Tokyo on April 18, 1942, she knew what was happening and, even though her life was in danger, she cheered openly. At this time, she began teaching piano lessons for children, which paid for her room and the language lessons but she was still dependent on the kindness of those around her to feed her. Iva would often eat what was left in garbage cans when she couldn't find anything else. She lived this way for over a year.

And then she began working as an English language typist for the Japanese news agency, Domei. Domei's connection with NHK Radio Tokyo led the radio service to hire Iva as an English language announcer for the short-wave transmissions they were sending to American and Australian military personnel stationed in the South Pacific. That actually wouldn't take place for another year. So Iva struggled and struggled.

The radio program was called The Zero Hour. It was put together by prisoners of war. Iva actually wanted to stay with the prisoners but that couldn't be allowed. The program consisted of a man giving the news (he had a fake Japanese accent and was either American or Australian). Music was announced by a cadre of around 18 Japanese women and Iva. Each had a different "handle" they would use as announcer. Dutchie was very popular. She had a high pitched voice. Iva was Orphan Ann. She got the name from what she missed from America: She loved the Sunday comics. Her favorite was Little Orphan Annie. She missed the radio shows Little Orphan Annie (which went off the air just before she left California) and The Shadow. She loved the movies and had a terrible girlish crush on Jimmy Stewart which lasted through college. It should also be noted that she was registered as a Republican for the 1940 Presidential election and campaigned rather verbally for Wendell Willkie. And the Japanese kept giving her the opportunity to register as a Japanese citizen. Her father, who was a very patriotic American, always told her, "A tiger never changes its stripes. You will always be you, my loving daughter." In time that statement would be linked with Iva during her subsequent trial in the middle of all of this. But the statement was actually her father's.

Those women on The Zero Hour collectively became known as Tokyo Rose. There never was a person who claimed that handle. It was a GI nickname. She was said to be the enemy, but most of the servicemen knew she was harmless.

In due time, she became romantically involved with a Portuguese national with a Japanese mother (he also claimed Japanese citizenship) by the name of Felipe D'Aquino. They married on April 19, 1945. It was during a bombing raid on Tokyo. Iva and Felipe were very much in love and Felipe told her how much he wanted to go to America with her. Then the war was over. The radio program went off the air and she was subsequently arrested by the occupying United States Army in September. One of the mothers, whose son was killed in the South Pacific Ocean during the war heard a rumor that "Tokyo Rose" gave away some military secrets on one of her radio shows. Harry Brundage, who wrote for Cosmopolitan Magazine, offered a reward of $250 for anyone who could find Tokyo Rose. That Cosmo was nothing like the magazine today and was read by men and women. Anyway, she was found and arrested. Iva remained in Japan for another three years. Felipe came to visit her (conjugally) and she became pregnant while in prison. In 1948, her baby was miscarried. It's thought that the events of her life caused this to happen. She was held in Sugamo Prison in Japan and was then sent to California for trial.

In the trial, Iva was exploited and used. The judge felt she was guilty long before the trial even started. So he did his best to make a show out of the whole thing. Although the proceedings were overly drawn out, the sentencing was swift. She had to serve ten years plus pay a $10,000 fine. Iva stayed in prison only until 1957 on parole, at which time she went back to her father in Chicago. Felipe was completely out of her life. Because of many factors, the couple knew that he shouldn't have stayed in the United States. And Iva was dead set against going anywhere outside the country... not even Mexico or Canada.

President Gerald Ford pardoned Iva in 1976, which was the very last thing he did as President. Four years later, Iva and Felipe finally divorced. She continued living in Chicago and running the store, even after her father died. Iva died at her home in Chicago on September 26, 2006, at the age of 90. She died of old age.

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Paula Winslowe (1910-96)

Paula Winslowe was born March 23, 1910, in Grafton, North Dakota. She married her childhood sweetheart, John Sutherland (1910-2001) after graduating from high school. In the years following, John and Paula moved to the Los Angeles area, where John began making documentary and instructional films.

As soon as arriving in California, Paula got work in the MGM Studios in Culver City as a voice actress. In the days of the studio contracts, it was good, honest, steady work. In time, Paula's voice became quite well known. When Jean Harlow (1911-37) died before the picture Saratoga (1937) was finished, Mary Dees (1911-2005) was able to serve as Jean's body double and they wanted to use Mary's voice, too. Unfortunately, it was too high. Paula, the voice actress, who could do any voice in any range, could sound exactly like Jean Harlow with the proper inflection, tone, and accent. When the movie hit the theaters, most of the moviegoers couldn't tell which scenes had Mary Dees (and Paula's voice) and which ones were actually Jean Harlow.

Paula also got a lot of work in radio beginning even before Saratoga. The first time her name was credited in a radio show was for a special program of the Don Lee Network in Hollywood on December 30, 1936.

Over the course of years she became a featured actress in the Joe E. Brown Show, The Shadow of Fu Manchu, and several shows on the Lux Radio Theater. During this time, Paula became getting friendly with some of Hollywood's biggest stars, including Anna May Wong. Anna once made the comment, "Paula, you're lucky. You can get all dressed up and go to the grocery store and no one pays attention to who you are. Me, I have to wear a raggy sweatshirt, a pair of worn out slacks, holey tennis shoes, and sunglasses, so no one thinks I'm something special. I miss being anonymous! It's the one thing you have." Paula remembered that. Her name never appeared in the credits of any of the movies she made.

In the Disney animated feature, Bambi (1942), Paula did the part of Bambi's mother and a few other creatures in the forest. She was also probably heard in Walt Disney's Dumbo (1941).

Paula's best known role was that of Margaret "Peg" Riley in The Life of Riley. That show lasted from 1945 to 1951. When the radio show became a movie, all of the parts were done by members of the radio show cast, except that of Peg, which was played by Rosemary DeCamp (also a radio actress). She also did not appear in the subsequent TV series, which used several other actors (although William Bendix was retained for the title role). Later on, though Paula would play some very minor roles on several TV shows.

Paula Winslow died at her home in the Van Nuys section of Los Angeles on March 6, 1996, at the age of 85. She was survived by her husband, John and their four children, Eric, John, Ronald, and Diane.

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Joan Davis (1907-61)

Madonna Josephine Davis was born June 29, 1907, in St. Paul, Minnesota. She left school early and became a vaudeville comedian with her husband, Si Wills (real name Simon Williams, 1896-1977) long before they were married. They were married in 1931. In 1932, Joan was in Hollywood, making short comedy films for a company called Educational Films. Despite its sage sounding name, it was actually just the opposite. That company was an arm of 20th Century Fox, which offered her a contract in 1935. She did an average of about two movies a year (mostly B-movies) until the early 1950s, when she was called upon to be the female lead in a sitcom, I Married Joan.

During her movie days, she worked on a number of radio shows, beginning in 1942, with the Sealtest Variety Store. In 1945, she began her own comedy series on CBS, which was actually a carryover of the Sealtest program.

Joan was, first and foremost, a comedian. Her daughter, Beverly Wills (born Beverly Josephine Williams... 1934-63), had intended to follow in her mother's footsteps but that was never to be. the biggest part she ever got was on her mother's series, I Married Joan, in which she played Joan's sister.

After I Married Joan, she went into semi-retirement and lived in a house in Palm Springs with her daughter, son-in-law, mother, and two grandsons. Sadly, Joan passed way of a heart attack on May 22, 1961, at her home in Palm Springs, California, at the age of 53. But that's not the sad end to this story:

Even though, Joan had died, her family still lived in the house. On October 24, 1963, Beverly fell asleep while smoking. Before she could figure what happened, the room was in flames. Her sons, her grandmother, and she all perished in the flames. She was only 29 years old.

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