Monday, September 12, 2011
Louise Arthur: Heroine's sidekick (Moon Over Montana)
That a B-Western hero had to have a grizzled sidekicak, well, that custom actually went further back than Smiley Burnette, to the late silent era, in fact. But it was extremely rare that the heroine also came complete with sidekick. But that is exactly what happens in the 1946 Jimmy Wakely opus Moon over Montana, where the ever-popular Miss Jennifer Holt plays a shrew to be tamed by Mr. Wakely while her secretary, one Louise Arthur, dances a jig and comports herself with Jimmy's second, Lee (Lasses) White. And although an Easterner whose glasses of course hides a chorus girl kind of prettiness, Miss Arthur takes to the wild and woolly Montana like a duck to water, enthusiastically agreeging to be the roundup cook to pay for both ladies' stay at the Wakely-White ranch. And so it goes, Wakely taming Miss Holt and Lasses and Louise, well, romance may be too strong a word but there you are.
Louise Arthur had been in vaudeville as a child, "when vaudeville was on its way out," she said, and then went into "The George White's Scandals [of 1936]" on Broadway. She was 16, she told Ray Duncan of the Pasadena Independent Star News.
"People were shocked because I was a chorus girl at 16. Actually it was one of the most austere periods of my life. None of us drank or smoked or stayed out late. It was a serious business, and Mr. White was a very tough director. It was a no-nonsense job."
From the Scandals, Arthur became a Radio City Musical Hall Rockette:
"I was the seventh girl in from the left-hand side. One thing they did was to take out all your quirks. You couldn't have mannerisms or ragged movements, because the whole line had to move like a machine. We drilled for hours each day. It was good training, but not very satisfactory from a creative point of view."
Then on to plenty of radio work and, eventually, television. She starred opposite Bill Kennedy (billed as Drew Kennedy for some reason) in a satirical comedy entitled The People's Choice (1946) directed in 16mm by prolific Western ace Harry Fraser and sold to home movie viewers. The People's Choice was one of the earliest movies to pla regularly on television, the medium that became a new home for Louise Arthur in the 1950s. She also did dinner theatre and even played Mary Magdalene in a passion play in 1960. Miss Arthur disappears from television credits after an appearance on Honey West in 1965.
(We once again must take issue with the life dates listed on Louise Arthur's profile on the Internet Movie Database. If she was 16 when starting in the Scandals in December of 1935 when the show opened, she would have been born around 1919 and certainly not 1900 as someone on the Imdb claims. That birth year would have made her 46 when filming Moon over Montana, and a true miracle of nature. So here's a hint to would-be Imdb contributors: check a person's credits before you list a birth date!)