Day Nine of Noirvember: Femme Trivia
Film noir is brimming with a variety of actresses who played everything from naive girlfriends to feisty femmes fatales. Today’s celebration of Noirvember shines the spotlight on some of these dames, include a trivia tidbit about each one, and the name that they were born with. Have fun!
Betty Joan Perske
Bacall was once described as a combination of Marlene Dietrich, Katharine Hepburn, and Bette Davis, with overtones of Veronica Lake and Barbara Stanwyck and undertones of Mae West and Jean Harlow.
My favorite noir: The Big Sleep (1946)
Peggie Thomas Blair
While a high school student, Castle falsified her age and earned extra money by being a photographer’s model and working as an usher during evenings at the Hollywood Bowl.
My favorite noir: 99 River Street (1953)
Lucille Fay LeSueur
Crawford received her name from a contest in Movie Weekly magazine that invited readers to select a new moniker for the promising new actress.
My favorite noir: Mildred Pierce (1945)
Margaret Diane Augusta Cummins
Cummins was the original choice for the title role in Forever Amber (1947), but about two months into filming, she was replaced, along with the director and actors Vincent Price and Reginald Gardiner.
My favorite noir: Gun Crazy (1950)
Margaret Yvonne Middleton
DeCarlo studied classical dance at Fanchon and Marco in Hollywood, a popular dance school whose clients included Judy Garland, Betty Grable, and Jackie Coogan.
My favorite noir: Criss Cross (1949)
Marilyn Louise Louis
Fleming had red hair, emerald-green eyes and a figure that a columnist once said “practically whistles at itself.”
My favorite noir: Cry Danger (1951)
Katherine Sally Feeney
Forrest originally changed her name to Cary Gibson, on the advice of a female agent. She later changed it again, saying she “didn’t feel like a Cary.”
My favorite noir: The Strip (1951)
Doris Bernice Jensen
Gray made her performance debut at the age of four, singing such popular ditties as “Golden Slippers” and “Ain’t She Sweet?” on the radio.
My favorite noir: Nightmare Alley (1947)
Signe Eleonora Cecilia Larsson
Hasso was born in Stockholm, Sweden. Her name is pronounced “SEEN-yah HAH-so.”
Favorite noir: Strange Triangle (1946)
Hayward was struck by a car when she was seven years old; the accident fractured her hip and she was told she might not ever walk again. After only six months, she was able to get about on crutches, and a year later, she returned to school.
My favorite noir: They Won’t Believe Me (1947)
Margarita Carmen Cansino
Hayworth’s first stage experience was as part of her family’s vaudeville act, The Dancing Cansinos. She was added to the act when she was seven years old.
My favorite noir: Gilda (1946)
Lake reportedly received her reel name from Paramount producer Arthur Hornblow, Jr. who borrowed the name “Veronica” from his secretary, and added the surname because “her eyes are calm and blue like a lake.”
My favorite noir: The Glass Key (1942)
Norma Jeane Baker
One of Monroe’s first films was 20th Century Fox’s Scudda Hoo! Scudda Hay! (1948), starring June Haver, but the studio pronounced her “unphotogenic,” and most of her scenes ended up on the cutting room floor.
My favorite noir: Niagara (1953)
O’Donnell appeared in only 17 films over a 14-year period.
My favorite noir: They Live By Night (1948)
Patrick landed a movie contract after entering Jesse Lasky’s Gateway to Hollywood radio contest. She was selected as the winner out of 2,000 entrants.
My favorite noir: 711 Ocean Drive (1950)
Ella Wallace Raubes
When she was 20 years old, a stove exploded in Raines’s face, and she was in serious condition for a time, with burns to her hair, face and hands. Luckily, she suffered no permanent damage.
My favorite noir: Phantom Lady (1944)
Before she decided to pursue a career as an actress, Scott considered being an opera singer, a journalist, or a nun.
My favorite noir: Too Late for Tears (1949)
Ruby Katherine Stevens
Stanwyck was the youngest of five children; her siblings were named Maude, Mable, Mildred and Malcolm.
My favorite noir: Double Indemnity (1944)
Jane Sterling Adriance
Sterling was born into a family whose bloodlines earned them a place in the New York Social Register. Her ancestors included presidents John Adams and John Quincy Adams, and her grandfather was a manufacturer of harvesting machinery who sold out to the Deere company.
My favorite noir: Ace in the Hole (1951)
Trevor’s mother was born in Belfast, Ireland, and her father was born in Paris.
My favorite noir: Born to Kill (1947)
Julia Jean Mildred Frances Turner
Turner attended Hollywood High School; her schoolmates included Nanette Fabray, Alan Hale, Jr., Ann Miller, and Alexis Smith.
My favorite noir: The Postman Always Rings Twice (1946)
Emily Marie Bertelson
After high school, Windsor entered a number of beauty contests, earning the titles of “Miss Covered Wagon Days” and “Miss D & R.G. Railroad.” In the latter contest, the top prize of 99 silver dollars, with which the actress purchased a set of luggage to be used to move to Hollywood.
My favorite noir: The Killing (1956)
Winters auditioned for the role of Scarlett O’Hara in Gone With the Wind, announcing to the film’s director and an MGM talent scout, “Lawdy, folks, I’m the only goil to play Scarlett!”
My favorite noir: He Ran All the Way (1951)
Gretchen Michaela Young
Young got her big break when an assistant director at First National Pictures called her home to ask if her older sister, Polly was available for a role in a Colleen Moore picture. Polly Ann was already working on another film, but 14-year-old Loretta declared that she was an actress, too, and she was hired for the part.
My favorite noir: The Stranger (1946)
Join me tomorrow for Day 10 of Noirvember!