Wednesday, April 20, 2016

The final home of REX LEASE

5262 Mary Ellen Ave., Van Nuys, CA


This San Fernando Valley property, currently under repairs, became the final home of silent era B Western star and later bit player/riding extra Rex Lease. The former "Cyclone of the Saddle" died here at the age of 62 sometime between New Years Eve, 1965 and January 2, 1966. His body was discovered by his son on January 3.


Wednesday, April 6, 2016


10728 Bellagio Rd, Los Angeles, CA

The party-giving Rathbones purchased this Bel Air mansion in June of 1939 for the-then hefty amount of $65,000. 

Sunday, March 27, 2016


"A dour foreign legion picture," as the always perceptive Don Miller called it in his groundbreaking little tone B Movies, Legion of Missing Men takes a turn from desert stock to the incongruous sight of one Hala Linda performing in a dive frequented by our Leggionaires Ralph Forbes, Ben Alexander and Paul Hurst. The little ditty the supposedly Parisian Miss Linda performs, "You Are My Romance," was penned by Flo Browne and Richard B. Gump. The latter, as it turned out, was Hala's husband and the son of Abraham Levinston, "the San Francisco 'jade king'." Later that same year, Miss Linda, described as a "red haired Scandinavian actress" l(born Lindelof), learned that her husband had divorced her while they were still cohabiting! He, in turn, called his wife a gold digger and the couple quickly headed for court,me demanding that the divorce stand.

Hala Linda in Legion of Missing Men

Hala Linda Gump in court


Wednesday, February 24, 2016

The (forgotten) women of the BIG FOUR FILM CORP. 1930-1931

Founded by John R. Freuler, formerly of the American Film Company, Big Four Film Corporation was created to produce very low budget Westerns starring a constantly changing array of formerly silent Western performers: Jack Perrin, Lane Chandler, Buffalo Bill, Jr., Yakima Canutt, Bob Custer, and Wally Wales. Children and canines were also represented, by Buzz Barton and Rin Tin Tin, Jr.

The leading ladies were not of the same caliber as the cowboy stars, but instead rank amateurs and chorus girls. Typical of the former was one Bonnie Jean Gray, "a well known Burbank horsewoman," who decorated Big Four's final release, Flying Lariats (1931) starring Wally Wales. Miss Gray had formerly toured the west coast as a trick rider with the Jayhawk Night Rodeo.


Charline Burt  Beyond the Rio Grande (1930, Jack Perrin). Miss Burt came from slapstick comedy, including Mack Sennett. Sadly, this Western appears to be lost.

Renee Borden Ridin' Law (1930, Jack Perrin), Canyon Hawks (1930, Yakima Canutt)

Bob Steele and Renee Borden in Western Justice (1934)

Aline Goodwin Firebrand Jordan (1930, Lane Chandler) Miss Goodwin, who almost exclusively appeared in silent and early sound Grade Z Westerns, later became an extra.

Aline Goodwin and Lane Chandler in Firebrand Jordan.

Betty Baker Bar L Ranch (1930, Buffalo Bill, Jr.) Miss Baker hailed from South Carolina (b. 1907) but grew up in Los Angeles where she was educated at Metropolitan High School. She previously appeared opposite silent Western stars Buddy Roosevelt, Wally Wales and Buffalo Bill, Jr. Bar L Ranch appears to be her final film.

Betty Baker 1927

Lorraine LaVal So This is Arizona (1931, Wally Wales), Riders of the Cactus (1931, Wally Wales). Miss LaVal also appeared as a telegraph operator in Big Four's final release, Flying Lariats.

Pauline Parker Human Targets (1932, Rin Tin Tin) This appears to have ben Parker's only screen appearance.

Monday, February 22, 2016


In honor of the US primary contests I give you early 1930 Z-Western starlet Edna Aslin, here demonstrating a certain lack of decision by advertising both the GOP elephant and the Democratic donkey. Miss Aslin, who sometimes spelled her name Aselin, starred opposite Ed Cobb, Jay Wilsey and other Robert J. Horner Western stalwarts. 


ETHEL BECK in GUN GRIT at Talisman Studio.

Well, actually, who is/was Ethel Beck? The nominal leading lady in a Jack Perrin western cum gangster movie Gun Grit (1936), she clearly was no actress. The film is a bottom-of-the-barrel effort from indie producer William Berke made at the cheap Talisman Studio and directed by one Lester Williams who was William Berrke under any other name. Miss Beck is seen her holding a baby billed in the film as "Baby Lester," who was actually the producer's own son, Lester William Berke. Junior took over from his father when William Berke suddenly passed away while helming the sci fi flick Missile to the Moon in 1958.

Gun Grit was released by Atlantic Pictures Corp. and was one of four Perrin "Blue Ribbon" westerns coproduced by Berke and the star himself. 

The Talisman Studio, formerly Fine Arts and Tiffany-Stahl, at 4516 Sunset Blvd but seen here from Lyman Pl.

The lot as it appears today

Friday, February 5, 2016

The home of MAY WYNN

'745 Domingo Dr., Newport Beach, CA

This rather drab condiminium complex near the Pacific Ocean in the Orange County community of Newport Beach is home to former Copa dancer Donna Lee Hickey who, under contract to Columbia Pictures in 1954, took the name of the character she played in The Caine Mutiny and became May Wynn. A true "Whatever Became of ...?" starlet, Wynn married TV actor Jack Kelly in 1956, a union described as one of Hollywood's most solid until the couple divorced in 1964.



May Wynn and her leading man from The Caine Mutiny, Robert Francis, in their second film together, They Rode West (1955). May was dating the handsome Francis when he was tragically killed in an airplane disaster that same year. That Robert Francis was the male lover of billionaire Howard Hughes, as at least one modern writer claims, is wholly unsubstantiated. Then again, who could have blamed Howard?




17800 Tramonto Dr., Pacific Palisades, CA

This forbidding home overlooking the Pacific once belonged to the Hollywood acting duo of Patricia Medina (1919-2012) and Joseph Cotten (1905-1994). Earlier, the abode housed Judith Exner, famous for sharing her not inconsiderable charms with both Mafioso Sam Giancana and President John F. Kennedy. And allegedly around the same time. The property is right above the infamous garage on Castellamare where blonde comedienne Thelma Todd was found dead from carbon monoxide poisoning December 16, 1935.



Thursday, February 4, 2016

CAROL KELLY of the acting Kellys.

Born in New York City in 1934, Carol Kelly was out of a performing family that also included sister Nancy Kelly and brother Jack Kelly, both of whom enjoyed long screen and television careers. Carol, though, not so much and her only prominent assignment came in Terror in a Texas Town 1958), a low budget but quite interesting western starring Sterling Hayden, directed by cult phenomenon Joseph H. Lewis and penned by actor Nedrick Young. The later, who was blacklisted, was unbilled. 

Carol  married prolific actor Joe Marross in 1958 but divorced him four years later. In her complaint, she alleged that her husband beat her and once even pulled her around the house by her ankles. "I guess I just can't adjust to marriage," Marross had explained in lieu of an apology. Carol was awarded full custody of their son, Michael. 


The Home of MONA KNOX

1400 N. Gardner, West Hollywood, CA

The final home of 1950s starlet and popular girl-about-town Mona Knox (1929-2008)



Richard Crane and Mona Knox in Thundering Caravans (Republic, 1952), which starred Allan "Rocky" Lane but came with no caravans at all.