Saturday, September 3, 2011

Carmen Morales (Valley of Vanishing Men)

John Wayne's leading lady, as far as that went, in John Ford's The Long Voyage Home (40), Carmen Morales earned much better billing but in reality not much more to do in the 1942 Columbia serial Valley of Vanishing Men. Hailing from the Spanish Canary Islands but reared in Mexico and the US as the daughter of a Mexican trade representative, Morales had danced in what her publicity considered "the capitals of Europe" before settling down in 1934 to a Hollywood marriage to fellow dancer Earl Lewis. The latter was, and would become again, the partner of Parisian variety star Mistinguette. In fact, in June of 1935, Lewis left his bride of ten months to rejoin Mistinguette in Paris, Carmen Morales instead preferring "to remain in Hollywood and pursue a screen career." Said career also emcompassed a stint with the Pasadena Playhouse and she was once considered for the starring role of Maria in the Hemingway film For Whom the Bell Tolls, released in 1943 with Swedish Ingrid Bergman in the role. Morales instead got The Long Voyage Home and the honor of performing "lady-in-waiting" duties for the Mexican Spitfire Lupe Velez at RKO. Valley of Vanishing Men , starring Bill Elliott, became the highlight of a screen career that stayed in the dolldrums for the remainder of the decade.

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