Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Jacqueline Dalya & The Secret Code (Universal, 1942)

A girl singer from New York City, and a former “Miss Greater New York,” Jacqueline Dalya (1918-1980) claimed to speak French, Spanish, Italian, Greek and Arabic. Perhaps. But she certainly did speak Spanish, fluently, and would even appear in a couple of Mexican films. By 1940 she had become Mrs. Bill Conselman – he was a prolific screenwriter – and was singing at Charlie Foy's in Hollywood. In fact, Jacqueline Dalya's private life was often much more interesting than her screen roles and her union with Conselman proved rocky with headline grabbing splits and reconciliations. They finally did divorce in 1943, Jacqueline testifying that Conselman “played gin rummy in the morning, played the horses in the afternoon, and spent the money we needed to pay bills.”

Attempting to get over the divorce, Dalya dallied with Mexican singer Carlos Ramirez and rising MGM star Van Johnson. The latter “engagement” was of longer durations but even the gossip columnists assumed she was merely a “beard.” Jacqueline, in fact, was described as “the only girl Johnson ever showed any interest in.” You think?

There were nightclub sightings with the very young Rory Calhoun and jockey Sammy Rennick but Jacqueline also took time out to smash her car into Fox producer Sol Wurtzel's Bel Air property in an attempt to avoid a vehicle traveling in the wrong lane. She was unhurt but Wurtzel was obliged to get a new fence.

There were more men: Swiss newcomer Kurt Kreuger, bad boy star Lawrence Tierney, director (and later Tonight Show producer) Fred de Cordova ( “there's a surprise for you!” opined columnist Harrison Carroll, whatever that meant) and handsome Tad Van Brunt, the latter described as a “new Paramount find.” Dorothy Kilgallen, meanwhile, observed that “The John Hart whom Jacqueline Dalya is introducing around Hollywood as her "cousin" is really her new heartthrob. He's the Columbia cowboy star.”

In between, Jacqueline also appeared in films and on television but in 1950, as an insurance against screen roles drying up she became sales manager for a California autoparts manufacturing company. By this time she was married to songwriter Bob Hilliard (“In the Wee Small Hour of the Morning,” etc.) Dalya was still working in the film business into the 1970s, one of her final appearances coming in the drive-in flick Blood Mania (1970).

… and their fellas: Tad Van Brunt.

A genuine war hero who served in both WWII and the Korean conflict, Frederick “Tad” Van Brunt (1921-1977) only dabbled in the movie business in between. Van Brunt was buried in Hawaii. A namesake son became a Hollywood prop man.

The Secret Code

… to be continued!


  1. I knew JAckie briefly in Hollywood...she was a wonderful woman....Used to go see her at her pad in Hollywood....

  2. I was 16 in 1955 and I worked for Jackie at the gas station she won in a card game, Fort Lee, N.J...Met Tony Bennett at thete home in Leonia, N.J....I Was Bobs inspiration for the song, From the Candy Store on the Corner to the Chapel on the Hill...They were two great people..Willie Sambogna