Friday, September 9, 2011
Nanette Parks (Texas Panhandle)
To be quite frank, Nanette Parks (1922-2004), albeit personable and cute, is not what you remember from the 1945 Durango Kid Western Texas Panhandle starring Charles Starrett and his regular sidekicks Tex Harding and Dub Taylor. But how could anyone, least of all an ingenue, stack up against the formidable Jody Gilbert, a fine lump of a woman who flings about poor Dub as if he were a Raggedy Ann doll. The gargantuan Miss Gilbert plays the town blacksmith and her scenes with Taylor remain highlights of this standard Durango oater about land grabbers. Add to that the yodelin' Carolina Cotton, future wife killer Space Cooley and his Western swing band and the usual B-Western sturm und drang and there is little that Nanette Parks can do other than grab on to the scenery for dear life. Which she does prettily enough.
The titian-haired (as her publicity never failed to state) daughter of a ditsctrict court judge in St. Paul, MN, Nanette Parks had appeared in community theater and then the Pasadena Playhouse (which, if we believe the Hollywood publicity hacks, was just lousy with starlets in the early 1940s) before signing with Columbia Pictures in December of 1944. She made quite a splash as pert journalism student Laura Jessup in Snafu (1945), a rollicking WWII farce about a family insisting on babying a returning veteran that had enjoyed a successful Broadway run. Parks was then rumored to be about to marry Jack Moss, a producer and Gary Cooper's former business manager, but that apparantly didn't happen and she signed instead with Paramount. For her 21st birthday, the studio generously announced that she would star in "Catalina," a proposed Technicolor musical with Sterling Hayden, but when the camera began rolling, the project had become a 19 minute short entitled Tropical Masquerade (1948) and instead of Hayden featured such lesser talents as Tito Guizar and Sally Rawlinson, the brunette daughter of former serial star Herbert Rawlinson. At least the project retained the Technicolor aspect. Unfortunately, Paramount already had Diana Lynn, Mona Freeman and Wanda Hendrix under contract, all fresh-faced ingenue types, and Nanette Parks apparently drew the shortest straw. By late 1948, she had left screen acting altogether. She apparently died at the age of 82 in Fort Lauderdale, FL. Or at least that's what we can learn from the IMDb. However, as the poster below suggests, the truth is a great deal happier. Apparently, Miss Parks retired to marry the future Vice Admiral Edward S. Briggs in 1949, and the couple live today on a cul-de-sac in Escondido, CA.