Tuesday, November 12, 2013


Violet Dunn gained fame as one of the featured dancers in Philip Dunning & George Abbott's "Broadway," a substantial hit that racked up more than 600 performances 1926-'28. The illustration, courtesy of New York Public Library's Billy Rose Collection, is a 1929 Arent Cigarette Card actually promoting Miss Dunn's performance. 

There is no doubt in my mind that this Violet Dunn is indeed the Violet Dunn that enjoyed a brief, two movie Hollywood career for Fox in 1931, appearing in Doctor's Wives, starring Warner Baxter, and The Black Camel, the second Warner Oland Charlie Chan movie and the first to have survived.



Yes, indeed: Violet Dunn, who plays movie star Dorothy Revier's maid in a most seething manner, turns out the be the culprit of one of the story's two killings. (The other murder is committed by none other than Dwight Frye, who plays the butler. Yes, indeed, the butler done it!) Miss Dunn, you see, was actually the widow of an actor who Miss Revier had sort of killed back in the day and her vengeful act is at least somewhat plausible. The means to commit said murder and old Charlie's deducing are pure pulp fiction, however. And that is as it should be.

This Viola Dunn, who on the cigarette card is listed as "American," is nevertheless most likely the Canadian-born actress who went on to some legitimate stage success replacing Glenda Farrell in the 1970 Broadway hit "Forty Carats."

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