Sunday, September 18, 2011

Mary Moore Maynard (The Purple Monster Strikes, Return of the Lash)

Chapter 12 of the Republic serial The Purple Monster Strikes (1945) concludes with a fantastic bitch-fight cliffhanger between heroine Linda Stirling and the evil Marcia from Mars, i. e. beautiful Mary Moore. After a furious car chase between the familiar boulders of the Iverson Movie Ranch in Chatsworth, CA, the chapter ends with both ladies plunging to certain death from a cliff high above the desert floor. Of course, in the takeout in chapter 13, only Miss Moore perishes, Miss Stirling instead landing unharmed in a crevice in the rocks conveniently filled with plush greenery. Marcia had arrived on planet Earth in the previous chapter to help the title menace (Roy Barcroft) but then spent most of her time assuming the body of lab assistant Helen (Rosamonde James, a fashion model and one of Republic's contracted saloon “dancing girls”). In other words, although leading the second card of supporting players in the opening credits, Mary Moore has actually little to do other than run around prettily in her skimpy outfit. Which, as it turns out, was pretty much par for the course for the former Universal handmaiden and Goldwyn Girl.

Her exotic dark beauty explained by her Osage Indian heritage, Mary Moore (b. 1922) had been in the 1939 (and final) edition of the “George White's Scandals” on Broadway, a colorful variety show featuring the likes of Ann Miller and the Three Stooges. And the George White girls, of course, a sort of lower rent version of the Ziegfeld show girls. This was probably were she met Russ Murray, whom she would marry in 1944 and then divorce less than a year later. By then, Russ had left show business and become an army lieutenant. As stated above Mary was a harem girl in Universal's Arabian Nights (1942) and joined the Goldwyn troupe in Danny Kaye's Up in Arms (1944) and Wonder Man (1945). A walk-on in the Monogram Charlie Chan mystery The Shanghai Cobra (1946) followed and then she changed her name to Mary Maynard for her only leading role, Lash LaRue's Return of the Lash (1947). But to make sure the industry knew that she wasn't a complete neophyte, she listed herself as “Mary Moore Maynard” in the 1946 Academy Players Directory.

She plays the sister of former juvenile actor Brad Slaven and they sit on valuable land now that the railroad is coming to town. Only bad old George Chesebro (in a rare boss villain role) knows this, however, and sooner than later the siblings are held hostage. To the rescue come Lash LaRue and his trusted sidekick Fuzzy Q. Jones (beloved Al St. John) and … well, you can easily guess the rest. Mary Maynard is pretty but has very little to do other than serve coffee and look frightened. That, of course, is par for the course in a PRC western like Return of the Lash. It would be her final film under either name.

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