Another minor Robert Lippert production geared toward neighborhood and, especially, rural theaters, Mask of the Dragon comes complete with an old fashioned organ score that suggests early television soap operas. Which was probably on purpose since part of the plot actually takes place in a TV studio during a live broadcast emceed by none other than legendary honorary "Hollywood Mayor" Johnny Grant, who proudly announces that the evening's entertainment includes several dull-sounding lectures and, as a sort of curtain act, an episode of The Perils of Pauline from 1914. Undoubtedly Lippert's sly way of suggesting that television was hardly a threat to motion pictures. Even motion pictures as cheaply made as Dragon. The leading lady here is a rather matronly Sheila Ryan, a former 20th Century-Fox starlet destined to marry hayseed performer Pat "Mr. Haney" Buttram. Lippert contract player Richard Travis essays the handsome, wavy haired hero, and Dee Tatum, another Lippert regular, is a TV songstress who meets her maker courtesy of a knife in the back right there on live television. The camera quickly swivels away from the corpse to a sign apologizing for the slight, technical, interruption of programming.
Miss Tatum, meanwhile, became the wife of commercial pilot Carson Shade, whom she ditched in 1959 to marry another flyboy, marine corps ace turned author Gregory (Pappy) Boyington. To make sure the nuptials were legal in all 50 states, the couple wed a total of three times! In Denver, in Las Vegas and, finally, in Norfolk, CT. The new Mrs. Boyington, 34, was listed as a "television actress" in the wedding announcement.
Veteran B-movie actor Lyle Talbot and Dee Tatum in Mask of the Dragon (1951)
As it turns out, there is much more to the story of "Dee Tatum" and "Pappy" Boyington. The latter, Gregory Boyington, was actually a very well connected aviator whose life story, "Baa Baa Black Sheep," became a successful television series starring Robert Conrad. There were other TV shows on offer for the famed WWII Medal of Honor recipient, including a proposed series, "Danger Zone," to be hosted by him. It is therefore not surprising that he caught the eye of a failed television and movie starlet named Delores Tatum, "Tatum" apparently courtesy of an earlier Union, who claimed to have starred in movies in Europe and elsewhere. Well, the elsewhere was clearly her four or so bit parts for Robert Lippert and, that, as they say, was that. Wedded bliss with Boyington, which certainly had its ups and downs, ended in 1978, when she married for the fourth time, reportedly to a Hungarian immigrant. All of which is described in at least one book,
and on several aviator websites.
Pappy Boyington and wife Dee I. 1964, reconciled after an estrangement due to Mrs. Boyington"s previous marriage never having been legally terminated.