Monday, April 6, 2009


If you would like to have a Screen Sheik for a Leap Year Prize, it’s time to sort over the Scattering Eligibles still remaining after Dan Cupid’s Raids in 1931 –

And those left are described as Exceedlingly Shy and Ready to Break for the Tall Uncut at the Mere Mention of the Word Matrimony—

Here are a Few Pointers about what is Requisite in a Young Woman’s Fishing Tackle if she aspires to Take One of them Into Camp

By Alice L. Tildesley
March 20, 1932

Cupid picked off so many of Hollywood’s favorite bachelors during 1931 that alarm is expressed lest all the romantic screen actors become benedicts.

Richard Dix and Bill Powell have led lovely blondes to the altar.

Charlie Farrell and Lew Ayres have given two feminine players the right to put “Mrs.” before their names.

Kenneth McKenna and Stuart Erwin have said “I will” and “I do” to the age-old query about “all their worldly goods.”

How do other Hollywood bachelors feel about matrimony?

Looking over the film quota of unattached males, we find more than 30 gentlemen, ranking from Jackie Cooper to Ramon Novarro, from Billy Bakewell to George O’Brien, potential matrimonial prizes.

Jackie Cooper, who is just 8 years old and the youngest character actor on the screen, has plenty of time to change his mind, but at present he has very little use for the other sex.

“They can’t play football,” he complains, “and what’s the use of anybody who can’t do that? I’d rather have a dog.”

Charles (Buddy) Rogers emphatically declares that he won’t be off the market until he is 32. At present he is deserting Hollywood for a season on the stage and his beautiful Beverly Hills home is for sale. Charles’ brother, who got married and divorced in a brief space of time, is said to have further deterred “America’s Boy Friend” from considering whether or not two can live as cheaply as one.

Mary Brian is often seen with Charles, but then Mary is Hollywood’s favorite girl friend, and her company is fought for by other eligible youths, including Russell Gleason and Billy Bakewell.

Russell, who has created a trust fund for himself that will make him independent at 23, has dreams of going to Oxford for more education before stepping off to wedded bliss; but he admits that Father and Mother Gleason’s marriage has turned out well and they married when they were both under 21.

William Bakewell confesses that the trouble with romance is that a man is terribly attracted to a girl while she seems inaccessible, but the minute it begins to look as if she might smile on him, he feels a yen for freedom.

“Anyway, I’m not going to think of marrying until I’m 27,” he concludes.

William Haines, Ramon Novarro, George O’Brien and John Roche are among Hollywood’s inveterate bachelors.

You can’t get Bill Haines to be serious on the subject. Ever since he announced his engagement to Polly Moran as a gag, he simply begins a long argument with himself on whether or not it’s “right” for an engaged man to discuss such subjects as weddings with “another woman.”

He says his hair turned blond once from fumes of nitroglycerin when he was working in a powder factory on the James river in his native state of Virginia, and he wouldn’t wonder if it would turn white if it got within sight of an altar.

Ramon Novarro’s name is never coupled with that of a woman. Romance still stays far from this handsome descendent of the Aztec emperor, Montezuma.

“I think it is dead,” he confided. “Modern hardness has killed it – the lovely thing. I believe that one reason for marriage is parenthood, and I have had all the thrills of that state over my younger brothers and sisters, that if I marry it must be for romance.”

George O’Brien’s technique in the game of love is admirable, yet he has never become actually engaged, unless it was to Olive Borden, who has since married a man outside the profession.

When a girl attracts George’s attention there are flowers for her every day; telegrams punctuate her waking hours; telephone calls pursue her. She is the queen of the May. But always, so far, something has happened and the attentions poured out on one are turned into another’s channels.

George won’t commit himself further than: “You wait – one of these days - !”

Which is about the same lucid observation obtainable from John Roche, whose sweethearts invariably turn into fond friends, who go to the house for dinner two and three times all amiably trimming Christmas trees or helping serve at big summer beach parties.

Until lately, Gary Cooper has been considered exclusively Lupe’s. But since the vivid little Mexican has gone her way, we begin to remember that several others were holders of that cow boy star’s heartstrings in the past.

Gary hails from Montana, and began his Hollywood career as an extra. He got his first “break” in pictures because Sam Goldwyn was looking for a real cowboy to play in “The Winning of Barbara Worth.” On that desert location I sat next to him at table for three meals a day and heard him say nothing at all. He opened his mouth only to put food into it.

He is scarcely more loquacious now, and on the subject of weddings and women has less than nothing to say. At any rate, it is safe to prophesy that he will not be the first bachelor to take the fatal plunge. Or is it safe?

Life has been a series of high romantic moments for the Russian star, Ivan Lebedeff. He was the son of the privy councilor to the Russian empire and was brought up with the young noblemen of the court, educated at the University of St. Petersburg and the Imperial Lyceum. The war brought him adventures from the day he enlisted in the Third Regiment of Dragoons. Transferred to “partisan” service, he captured the only German bagged during the war. He was wounded several times, sentenced to death, escaped, became dictator of Odessa and was the center of a sensational plot to capture a well-known spy in Constantinople. After these and other similarly exciting passages, romance seems to him just a bit tame.

“Marriage may be in the future, who knows?” he shrugs, his slender eyebrows lifting, “but for me, I lived one day at a time, I do not look ahead to see what is to come. It is fate. I can do nothing if it is written in the stars. So, I do not say ‘I shall do this’ or ‘I shall do that.’ I wait.”

In the meantime, the dark and fascinating Slav is seen more and more often with the beautiful Thelma Todd.

Perhaps the most –talked-of bachelor of those new to Hollywood is James Dunn, the O. K. boy of “Bad Girl.” James left his father’s office to go on the stage about four years ago, and his best known work there was in “Sweet Adeline,” opposite Helen Morgan. He had done nothing but extra work in pictures when he was signed by Fox last spring, but he “clicked” with his first role and is spoken of everywhere as the find of the year.

If you care to get on with James, don’t whistle in his dressing room. Twice someone whistled there and each time something happened, according to the O. K. boy.

“The first time I was hurt in a taxi accident and the second I broke two ribs in a fall,” he declares earnestly.

“Sure. I’m in the market for a wife – if she has enough money. I’m looking for one with a hundred thousand dollars. Got one handy? Tell her I like bright-colored shirts and ties, I smoke cigarettes and play the piano by ear. I hate to comb my hair, too.

“On, no, I don’t care if she’s dark or fair so long as she’s white and has a good bank account.”

“Jimmy, people will believe you!” warned a scandalized guest.

“Oh, yeah. And tell her not to whistle in my dressing room!”

And yet they do say that there is a certain Follies girl who may yet whistle in Jimmy’s dressing room and he’ll have to like it.

Charles Butterworth is another graduate from “Sweet Adeline,” his biggest stage success. This famous comedian declares that he will never marry a girl who talks baby talk.

“My opinion of this whole subject of matrimony,” he confides, “is that the thing is done with cleverly arranged mirrors. We won’t go into it, if you don’t mind.”

Joel McCrea is on the son of one of Pasadena’s wealthiest citizens. Born with the much-talked-of silver spoon in his mouth, everything else seems to have fallen without effort into his lap. He walked into the movies and accepted various fat parts, among them leads with Greta Garbo, Marion Davies and Constance Bennett.

He is tall, good-looking and appealing. For a time it was rumored that Constance Bennett regarded him with a more than favorable eye. But Connie’s married now. Joel says he hopes to marry the ideal girl one of these days, but he isn’t going on record as to what qualities that ideal girl must possess.

Phillips Holmes is one of our most attractive unattached leading men. Son of Taylor Holmes, of stage and screen fame, Phillips had no intention of following in the theatrical profession. He was pursuing his education at Princeton university when director Frank Tuttle came down with a picture company to film scenes for a college play.

“Who’s that?” asked the director, spying Phillips on the campus. And when a director says “Who’s that?” you know the answer. Phillips was soon signing on a dotted line.

So now, when Phillips insists that he has no matrimonial intentions at present, that he thinks careers should be established firmly before other risks are taken, that anyway he hasn’t met the girl, how do we know that some determined maiden may not be in the offing ready to say “Who’s that?”

Harpo is the only one of the Four Marx Brothers who isn’t married, and he’s in love. Harpo got his name from playing the harp he inherited from his grandmother, who was in her time a harpist.
The boy taught himself to play and does everything wrong, even to tuning the instrument so that no one else can play it. But what’s the use of listing Harpo’s attractions when he may be applying for a license to marry any day?

Kent Taylor is a new name in Hollywood, but one not destined to remain unknown, according to studio predictions.

Kent tried various jobs – window trimming, carrying cement, tending gas burners in a nut and bolt factory and selling awnings – but all the time he longed to be an actor.

A neighbor, who worked at a studio, told Kent that he was an excellent type for pictures and persuaded him to go with her to ask for a test.

“There’s Henry King, the big director,” the actress pointed out. “Go brace him for a job,”

Kent did so, and to his amazement Mr. King asked him to practice a certain song and come back for a test. When he returned for the test Kent was given the part, which consisted merely of a sailor who sings a song. He went to Florida on location with the company, and after hanging around for four weeks to sing, was told that the song would be delivered by a string orchestra and he wouldn’t be needed!

After that Kent did extra work under a casting director who asked him as a favor to sit in with a girl for a test of a new camera device.

“It won’t mean a thing to you,” he was warned, “but none of our contract men are free.”

Kent and the girl decided on their own action and worked for an hour. When the officials saw the resultant test, they chorused that the boy must be called back for a contract.

“That’s life,” says Kent, from his vast experience, “If you think you have something, you haven’t; but if you think you haven’t you have. That’s romance too. I’m not counting any chickens yet and I’m not going to say I’m married till I have the license in my hand.”

Among the young bachelors who declare themselves to be “willin’” are Robert Young, Eric Linden, John Darrow and Randolph Scott.

Bob Young is a graduate of Pasadena’s community theater.

Eric Linden was the youngest student entered at Columbia university for years. He’s only 20 now, but he’s had two years on the stage.

John Darrow has no dependents and is saving his money on a novel insurance plan. He is both modest and charming.

Randolph Scott is from Virginia, and it was “Under a Virginia Moon,” a play, that attracted film attention.

“I like to paint and I like to play the piano. When I find the right girl, I’ll probably break down and marry her – if she’ll have me,” says Scott.


Anonymous said...

What a fun article. I gotta chime in with my two cents about Gary Cooper. He met Veronica (Rocky) Balfe, a 20 year old New York debutante, early in 1933 when she was doing some bit part work in films under the name Sandra Shaw. Cedric Gibbons, famous art director at MGM for decades and also the man who designed the Oscar statue, was her uncle but she didn’t use his name or influence to get into the movies. She did it more as a lark instead of as a serious career and she only had bit uncredited parts in three films (King Kong being one of them). Gary fell hard for her quickly and b/c of his love for her, he didn’t want their relationship to become a public spectacle so they dated quietly and the press was often confused about who he was with and they actually thought he was just casually dating two different women, Veronica and Sandra – ha! When asked about his current love situation or if he had any plans to marry soon he would always blow it off and never mentioned Rocky by name if he even talked about her at all. I have a Photoplay mag from Nov 1933 and there’s an article in it about Gary titled “I Am Not in Love”. So needless to say everyone was quite surprised when Gary and Rocky announced their engagement shortly after that and then were married Dec 15, 1933. They did have some rough patches due to his affairs, but they made it through and were married until his death in 1961. Near the end of his life he told Rocky and just about anyone who would listen, that she was the only woman he had ever truly loved and she felt the same about him.


GAH1965 said...

Great info about Coop - thanks very much for sharing it and providing the extra context.