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1939 variety show

The August 17 1939 Toronto Daily Star featured this ad for a variety show for the Star Fresh Air Fund.

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Jessica Dragonette (1900-1980) sang on the radio from 1926 to 1947, and was voted radio’s most popular female vocalist in 1935. She was able to sing in six different languages.

Shirley Ross (1913-1975) was at the peak of her fame in 1939, as she had performed a duet with Bob Hope in The Big Broadcast of 1938. She was cast opposite either Hope or Bing Crosby a total of five times.

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Agent 99 wins $64,000

The July 20 1957 edition of the Toronto Star featured Gordon Sinclair interviewing a young woman named Barbara Hall, who had won $64,000 on the game show The $64,000 Question:

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Ms. Hall went on to marry Lucien Verdoux-Feldon in 1958, who presumably is the Air France pilot mentioned in this article. She changed her name to Barbara Feldon, and later starred as Agent 99 in Get Smart.

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Someday my prince will come

The photo section of the April 21 1925 Toronto Daily Star contained this picture:

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When I read this, I wondered whether Prince Roufat Magometoff-Haliloff was an actual Russian prince. As it turned out, so did other Russian nobles: eventually, Prince Roufat admitted that he wasn’t an actual prince but was, in reality, a Bey. It was not clear what a Bey was or whether he really was one, but it was harder to challenge.

Ms. Arnold apparently wasn’t convinced either: in 1927, the Ogden Standard Examiner reported that Ms. Arnold had annulled her marriage. The newspaper article claimed – fairly or not – that she had “got rid of him as expeditiously and matter-of-factly as if his name were Smith and he got his start in life peddling fish”.

Searches for Roufat Magometoff-Haliloff and Delight Potter Arnold (the Star had her name wrong) turned up nothing else, so I have no idea who he really was or what happened to either of them. Perhaps his name really was Smith.

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Much-married people

The December 3 1945 edition of the Toronto Daily Star contained articles and pictures of famous people who had been married multiple times and were about to become married again.

The first pair of articles, grouped together, were about the latest marriages of some notoriously famous people:

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Tommy Manville (1894-1967) was the heir to the Johns-Manville asbestos fortune, and was famous during his lifetime for marrying a total of 13 times to 11 women. Before he met Ms. Campbell, he had been married seven previous times:

  • When he was 17, he married Florence Huber, a chorus girl, five days after meeting her. His father annulled the marriage, so he married her again. His father then cut him off financially, so he worked in his father’s company’s Pittsburgh factory to make ends meet. The couple separated in 1917 and divorced in 1922.
  • In 1925, he married his father’s stenographer, Lois Arline McCoin. One month later, his father died, he inherited $10 million, and he apparently took off: they were divorced in 1926 on the grounds of desertion.
  • He married Avonne Taylor in 1931, and they separated after 34 days.
  • He married Marcelle Edwards in 1933; they were divorced in 1937.
  • His marriage to Bonita Edwards in 1941 lasted two months.
  • His marriage to Wilhelemma Boze in 1942 lasted five months.
  • He married Sunny Ainsworth in August 1943; she had been married four times previously herself. They were separated after eight hours, and divorced in October 1943.

By now, Mr. Manville’s modus operandi was entrenched: he would meet an attractive young woman and propose marriage to her right away. He continued this with Ms. Campbell, proposing five minutes after meeting her. When she turned him down, he pursued her for six years before she finally agreed to marry him.

Sadly, Mr. Manville and Ms. Campbell may actually have had a marriage that would have lasted – they remained married until she was killed in a car accident in 1952. Her death caused him to go back to his routine of repeated marriages, as he married three more times after that. He is estimated to have spent a total of $1.25 million on marriage settlements.

Peggy Hopkins Joyce (1893-1957) was as notorious as Manville – she was famous enough that songwriters such as Cole Porter and Irving Berlin used her name in their lyrics. Before marrying Mr. Easton, she had married four previous times:

  • She married millionaire Everett Archer Jr. in 1910, but this marriage was annulled when he discovered that she was underage.
  • She married lawyer Shelburne Hopkins in 1913; she left him four years later.
  • She met J. Stanley Joyce in 1919; he paid for her divorce from Hopkins in 1920, and married her two days later. Apparently, she locked herself in the bathroom on her wedding night and refused to come out until he wrote her a cheque for $500,000. She left him later that year.
  • She married Gösta Mörner, a Swedish count, in 1924; she left him later that year and divorced him in 1926.

She remained single for the next nineteen years before agreeing to marry Mr. Easton. Unfortunately, their marriage didn’t last either – they were divorced sometime before 1953. She married again later that year, remaining married until her death four years later.

This paper also contained a photograph of movie star Bette Davis about to become married for the third time:

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Ms. Davis was apparently attracted to Mr. Sherry because he had never heard of her and was therefore not intimidated by her. The two had a daughter in 1949, and they divorced in 1950; she then married Gary Merrill, her co-star in the movie All About Eve.

There was one final marriage-related article in the paper. It was about people who were not famous, and it is very saddening:

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I could find out nothing about Mrs. Hemmerle on Google – I hope she had a good life after her divorce.

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Humanity uprooted

The March 31 1931 edition of the Toronto Daily Star contained this notice of an upcoming book serialization:

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Maurice Hindus (1891-1969) was born in Belarus and moved to New York in 1905. He worked as an agricultural labourer and then earned a degree in literature in 1915. Humanity Uprooted was one of a series of books based on trips to Russia on behalf of Century Magazine. Some critics say that this book was overly sympathetic to or naive about Soviet Russia; presumably, this means that the gulags were never mentioned.

If you’re curious, Humanity Uprooted is available for download at the Internet Archive.

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Poor King Gustav

Newspaper typesetters of the past clearly had access to a handy supply of odd little bits of filler, which they could use to fill gaps in pages. The April 22 1925 Toronto Daily Star included this item:

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King Gustav V (or Gustaf V) may have had a brief attack of stomach trouble in 1925, but he went on to live a long life: he died in 1950 at the age of 91 after reigning in Sweden for nearly 43 years. He played competitive tennis for his country under the alias “Mr. G”.

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Real Folks

The October 11 1932 edition of the Toronto Daily Star has contained a whole lot of interesting stuff, so I’m back to it again today. Here’s an ad for a play being performed at Massey Hall:

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Real Folks was the NBC network’s first radio serial drama, created and written by George Frame Brown (1896-1979). (Apparently, no known recordings of this show exist.) Like the play, the radio show centered on life in the fictitious town of Thompkins Corners.

The Wistful Vistas old-time radio blog describes the history of Real Folks in detail. The show went on the air in 1928, and left the air in 1932 after switching to the CBS network in 1931. The touring version of the play described in this ad didn’t sell well, and folded in Syracuse about two weeks after the Massey Hall shows; NBC had to step in to ensure that the actors got paid.

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Marie, Queen of Rumania

The June 26 1926 edition of the Toronto Daily Star contained this syndicated column that was allegedly authored by Marie, Queen of Rumania (1875-1938):

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I am wondering: was Queen Marie actually writing a column for North American newspapers? Here’s what I found:

  • Her Wikipedia page makes no mention of newspaper writing that I could find, though it did mention that she wrote extensively, producing 34 books and short stories – including a three-volume autobiography, The Story of My Life, and a diary.
  • The Tourist in Romania site doesn’t mention newspaper writing either, but does point out that, after her death, her heart remained for many years in a dusty shoebox in the basement of the National Museum of Romanian History.
  • I also found a detailed list of books and articles by or about Marie, including “A Queen Talks About Love”, which appeared in Hearst’s International-Cosmpolitan in September 1925. One of the pictures on this page matches the picture in the 1926 article in the Star (though it has been flipped horizontally).

This last point leads me to believe that the column is genuine and was actually written by a regal person.

The Nicky referred to in the article was Prince Nicholas of Romania (1903-1978), who was exiled from Romania by his older brother King Carol II when the monarch disapproved of Nicholas’s marriage to a divorced woman. He emigrated to Spain and then to Switzerland, eventually passing away in Spain.

By the way, I cannot think of Marie of Romania (or Rumania) without thinking of this Dorothy Parker poem:

Oh, life is a glorious cycle of song,
A medley of extemporanea;
And love is a thing that can never go wrong;
And I am Marie of Roumania.

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Stars who unbend

The February 2 1950 edition of the Toronto Daily Star contained this brief article:

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Lois Andrews (1924-1968) was married and a mother when still in her teens: she was actor George Jessel‘s wife between 1940 and 1943. She appeared in several films that Jessel produced, the last of which was filmed in 1951. She died of lung cancer at the age of 44.

Patricia Medina (1919-2012) had a longer acting career, a longer marriage, and a longer life. She appeared in over 50 movies and television series, and then toured with her husband, Joseph Cotten, to whom she was married from 1960 until his death in 1994. She is now buried beside him in Petersburg, Virginia.

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Good grief, Mr. Ripley

Recently, I was reading a biography of Charles Schulz (of Peanuts fame). In an early chapter, the book mentioned that Mr. Schulz, as a boy, sent an item to Ripley’s Believe It Or Not about his dog, and that it was published on February 22, 1937.

The Toronto Daily Star ran Ripley’s Believe It Or Not as a regular feature, and I found it:

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As the biography explains, “Sparky” was Mr. Schulz’s childhood nickname. I might be imagining things, but I think the dog looks a bit like Snoopy.