Four panther women

Here’s one last photo from the March 20 1933 edition of the Toronto Daily Star, featuring four young actresses:


The reference to “panther women” is from a talent contest that Paramount Pictures held to cast the role of Lota, The Panther Woman, in the 1932 movie Island of Lost Souls. (This photo is undoubtedly a few months old.) According to this article, approximately 60,000 women entered the contest.

The winner of the contest was Kathleen Burke (1913-1980) (second from right in the photo above). She went on to appear in about 20 more films in the 1930s before ending her film career in 1938.

Verna Hillie (1914-1997) was entered in the Panther Woman contest against her wishes, as her mother had submitted her application. She didn’t win, but Paramount gave her a movie contract anyway. She was given rough treatment by the studios: first, Paramount dropped her after she contracted Bell’s palsy. After recovering, Universal dropped her when she refused Carl Laemmle Jr.’s advances. She retired from acting in the 1940s to raise her family.

Lona Andre (1915-1992) also received a contract from Paramount for her strong finish in the contest. She worked steadily in movies between 1933 and 1943, appearing in more than 50 pictures. In 1935, she eloped with actor Edward Norris; the marriage lasted four days. In 1938, she set a record for a woman golfer, playing 156 hours of golf in 11 hours and 56 minutes. After her acting career, she became a successful real estate broker.

Gail Patrick (1911-1980) was also offered a standard Paramount contract (though she negotiated better terms for herself). She appeared in more than 60 films between 1932 and 1948. After her acting career, she became a television producer, serving as the executive producer of the Perry Mason television series between 1957 and 1966.

Wikipedia has another photo of Hillie, Andre, and Patrick.

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