Monday, June 14, 2010

Pretty Pauline Moore

Pauline Moore
June 14, 1914 - December 7, 2001

Born in Harrisburg, Pa., Pauline Moore had a busy and vibrant career as an actress and model in the 1920s and 30s. That she never made the "big time" in Hollywood is one of the unfathomable mysteries of the era. Her attractiveness cannot be questioned. Her throaty, quirky voice was appealing and her talent evident.

In a 1990 interview, Pauline remarked "I was the girl who was always being discovered by the press. 'Watch this girl', a reviewer would say, and then forget to. The trouble was, if you were any good at all at doing B movies, then the more B movies you did." B movies, however, have a way of winning a place in fan's hearts that is unassailable.

Pauline's modeling career boasted of covers for Ladies Home Journal, Cosmopolitan, and McCalls. Her image graces one of the collectible Coca Cola trays from 1934. She is the "Hostess Girl".

Pauline earned her acting stripes with the Edna Preston Players touring in repertoire throughout the eastern seaboard. Her Broadway debut in 1921 was in a David Belasco revival of Eugene Walter's The Easiest Way. Many non-hits came her way as in Eugene O'Neill's The Fountain which ran for 28 performances in 1925 and the anarchist's delight Ernst Toller's Man and the Masses which had a 32-night run in 1924.

It must have been joyous to have a hit when Earl Carroll's Murder at the Vanities opened in 1933. The show ran for 207 performances and was filmed in 1934 by Mitchell Leisen. Her last play was 1934s Dance With Your Gods by Kenneth Perkins. Running for a scant 9 performances, it has the distinction of introducing a young Lena Horne.

Pauline's movie career began as one of Valerie Hobson's uncredited bridesmaids in 1931s Frankenstein. Better roles came Pauline's way later in the decade after signing with Fox although not in A level pictures with the deserved publicity build-up. 1938s Three Blind Mice is a comedy from the three girls on the hunt for rich husbands formula. Loretta Young's career did nothing but gain momentum and she would win an Oscar and television fame as well. Marjorie Weaver, like Pauline, would enliven B pictures such as Charlie Chan's Murder Cruise and Mike Shayne Private Detective.

Roy Rogers, Pauline Moore, Gabby Hayes
Young Buffalo Bill, 1940

Young western fans probably took no notice of the talent behind the stock characters setting up the longed-for action sequences, but this trio knew their business and always gave one hundred percent. Pauline could almost give Dale Evans a run for her money, appearing with Roy in 5 pictures between 1939 - 1941: Days of Jesse James, Young Buffalo Bill, The Carson City Kid, Colorado, and Arkansas Judge. Also unafraid to work with children, Pauline is featured with Jane Withers in Wild and Woolly and The Arizona Wildcat, and with the Dionne Quintuplets in Five of a Kind.

If you don't happen to be a fan of westerns or quintuplets you will find Pauline an incandescent Lady Constance in 1939s The Three Musketeers opposite Don Ameche and the Ritz Brothers. She's a sympathetic teacher in 1937s Heidi starring Shirley Temple, and the personification of a dream as Ann Rutledge in John Ford's Young Mr. Lincoln.

Keye Luke, Pauline Moore

Pauline's first appearance of three Charlie Chan features is Charlie Chan at the Olympics, 1937. It is a gold medal winner featuring archival footage of the Berlin games. Pauline is athlete Betty Adams, a teammate of Keye Luke's Lee Chan and the romantic interest for Alan "Rocky" Lane. She's a strong rooter of Jesse Owens and a great one for screaming for help when a kidnapping is in progress. Foreign spies will stop at nothing to get their hands on an aviation remote control device, but they have another thing coming when they decide to use a nice American girl as an unwitting smuggler!

The second Chan to star Sidney Toler, Charlie Chan in Reno, 1939 is great fun. What a grand double bill it would make with The Women for your next movie night. Pauline plays Mary Whitman who needs old friend Charlie's help when she's accused of murdering the woman who broke up her marriage. Catty gals, great fashions, and just the right amount - not too much - of laughs from Sen Yung and Slim Summerville give this picture major oomph.

As backstage murder mysteries go, Charlie Chan at Treasure Island, 1939 (what was in the water those Hollywood folks were drinking that year?!) is one of the best. Pauline is Eve Cairo, mind reader. Her boyfriend, a reporter played by Douglas Fowley and boss, a magician played by Caesar Romero are out to unmask a phony psychic and maybe find a murderer. Twists, turns and interesting character actors make it a must-see for newcomers to the series and an honoured favourite among fans.

Pauline's husband objected to her career and a move east during WW2 curtailed the actress's options. After raising her family and becoming involved in church work which including writing plays, the twice-widowed mother of three did a smattering of television and commercial work, including Death Valley DaysStudio 57, Medic, and The Littlest Hobo. Pauline lived her later years close to family in Sequim, Washington, and passed away from ALS in 2001.

Pauline Moore's enchanting presence in much-loved genre films keeps her alive for generations of classic movie fans.

You will enjoy this interview with Pauline from Mike Fitzgerald's Western Clippings.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Having Fun

I haven't been blogging much of late. Inspiration and fun has come to me from another source, the Etobicoke Centennial Choir's presentation of a concert performance of Gilbert and Sullivan's The Pirates of Penzance on May 28th and 29th.

This concert concluded my second season with the choir and I was quite chuffed to be in G&S land. While the choir repertoire is new and wonderfully challenging, my background is in theatre and musical comedy and now, I felt, was something in my wheelhouse. Straight away I auditioned for "Ruth", a role I always wanted to get a crack at. However, it appears my bottom notes are not all I thought them to be. No matter. Straight away I auditioned for "Kate" or "Edith" or anyone else who might fall under the category of "one of the others". "Kate" it was, and I was very pleased for she gets a few pithy lines and I'm a gal who likes to get her laughs.

My approach to the part was totally from an acting perspective because although I'm in a choir, I don't yet comfortably think of myself as a singer. I have learned a lot, but have a lot more to learn. I wanted to act the role and hoped the singing would be pleasant. It has been ten years since my last play (Aunt Abby in Arsenic and Old Lace) followed by a prolonged battle against cancer and a resultant unreliable body. I was excited about once more releasing my inner ham.

I don't have a picture in my "Kate" get-up, but here I am in full-on chorister mode.

Folks always have a good time with G&S and ECC's concert was no exception. Our group featured some wonderful professional lead performers and the choir really cut loose and filled the hall with beautiful singing.

I was the best one.
According to my family.
Well, of the supporting players.
Who are female.
Who they are related to.

I was the recipient of some lovely compliments and - oh, how I wish we were doing something like this again soon.

Esther Howard as "Mrs. Kraft", Born to Kill

One of my character actress idols, Esther Howard, was also a singer. She played naughty Clothilde in the 1928 - 29 Broadway production of Sigmund Romberg's The New Moon. What's needed now is for someone to write a musical version of Born to Kill or maybe Murder, My Sweet. After all, Sunset Boulevard worked. Can't you just hear Jesse Florian's big aria in Murder, My Sweet?

I told ya...I told ya, copper
I don't know anybody...I told ya'...anybody!!!


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