Friday, July 15, 2011
Margaret Marquis (Last of the Warrens, Brand of Outlaws, Cassidy of Bar 20)
A daughter of Alex Marquis, who was a captain of waiters at the famous Brown Derby, and a graduate of UCLA, Margaret Marquis (born in Denver, CO, in 1917) attended the Edward Clark Theatrical Academy and was discovered at age 14 performing in a playlet with the Clark Little Theater. The result was the role of Margie Jones in Penrod and Sam (1931) and she later appeared in such fare as Eight Girls in a Boat (1934) and the original Andy Hardy movie, A Family Affair (1937). She played Andy's girlfriend Polly Benedict in the latter (the role portrayed by Ann Rutherford in the subsequent series) and was seen about town with costar Mickey Rooney. She escaped becoming the first of many Mrs. Rooneys by instead marrying a Santa Monica chiropractor, whom she would eventually divorce in 1937. But not until having won the honor of possessing “the most perfect back,” named so by a group of Burbank chiropractors that undoubtedly included her soon-to-be ex-husband! Marquis had made her initial Westerns opposite Bob Steele in Last of the Warrens (1936), in which she is lusted after by none other than Blackie himself, Charlie King, and Brand of Outlaws (1936). She is King's stepdaughter in the latter and actually has a mother (Virginia True Boardman), a true rarity in a B-Western. To be truthful, Marquis isn't more than adequate in either but she positively shines as John Elliott's headstrong daughter in the Hopalong Cassidy entry Cassidy of Bar 20 (1938). The Cassidy Westerns treated actresses better than anyone else on the Hollywood prairie in those years, the writers actually creating multi-faceted women and not just the usual pallid rancher's daughter. In Cassidy both Hoppy (William Boyd) and his sidekicks, Lucky Jenkins (Russell Hayden) and Pappy (Frank Darien, who briefly stood in for Gabby Hayes who had defected for Republic Pictures) are provided with leading ladies. Nora Lane offered Hoppy age-appropriate romantic interest, leaving Margaret Marquis to woo Hayden and vinegar-faced stage actress Gertrude W. Hoffman to make a bit of hay with hayseed Darien. It is indeed ironic that the much married Boyd, who had finally found lasting happiness with starlet Grace Bradley, 18 years his junior, felt uncomfortable romancing much younger leading ladies in his guise as Hopalong Cassidy. From the outset of the series, Boyd left it to his younger co-stars, from Jimmy Ellison to Rand Brooks, to lust after the girls while occasionally, and very politely, pay court himself to the likes of Nora Lane, Charlotte Wynters and Natalie Moorhead, actresses perhaps no longer in the first bloom of youth. Margaret Marquis, meanwhile, appeared in films until the early 1940s and retired.