Saturday, April 15, 2017

Carole In England (1947-1948)

In August of 1947 Carole traveled to London, England to make two movies for Eagle-Lion Studios - Brass Monkey and Noose. At the time she was unhappily married to Horace Schmidlapp and having an affair with actor Rex Harrison. Horace decided to stay in New York City but Rex followed Carole to London. Their affair continued and got more serious even though Rex's wife, Lilli Palmer, came with him. Carole filmed Brass Monkey at Twickenhan Studios and stayed at the Savoy Hotel with her poodle Gina. She lived in England for nearly six months and fell in love with the country.

Carole said "I loved England and working there was really stimulating." When she wasn't working she went to many parties, visited the zoo, and spent time with her close friend Lt. Troy who had been injured during the war. She was so busy that during her first two months there she lost eleven pounds. On November 25 Carole participated in a charity performance of The Bishop's Wife for King George and Queen Elizabeth. After the show she attended a star-studded celebration with Bob Hope, Loretta Young, Patricia Roc, Rex Harrison, and Lilli Palmer. She was not photographed with Harrison but she did pose with Lilli.

                                                                                        Lilli Palmer, Patricia Roc, and Carole

In January of 1948 Carole was featured on the cover of the British magazine Film Illustrated Monthly. Horace came to visit her but they only spent a few days together. She finished filming Noose in February and returned to California. Lana Turner had been renting her Pacific Palisades home while she was away. Carole filed for divorce and the press began to gossip about her close relationship with Rex. She told her friends that she was returning to England in August to make The Amazing Mr. X. Sadly Carole would take her own life just a few weeks before she was supposed to leave.

With her poodle Gina                                                                                   
At the London zoo

Friday, April 14, 2017

Carole At Warner Brothers (1937-1938)

In the spring of 1937 eighteen year old Carole auditioned for director Busby Berkeley. He was impressed with her dancing and her beauty. Busby gave her a small role in Varsity Show, the Warner Brothers musical he was directing. Carole appeared as in a few scenes and was featured in the musical finale. Off screen she started a highly publicized romance with Busby (who was 24 years older than her). He helped Carole get a contract at Warner Brothers for $50 a week. Since she was still considered a minor she actually had to got to court to get the contract approved.

She was given bit parts in more than a dozen films including Hollywood Hotel, Gold Diggers In Paris, The Patient In Room 18, and Blondes At Work. Although most of her parts were forgettable she was beginning to make a name for herself in Hollywood. Carole posed for dozens of publicity photos and became known for her sexy leg art. She said "It was the leg art that did the trick. Naughty leg art, if you happen to look at it in that light. You see when the boys needed someone to pose in a skin-tight white bathing suit, go sleigh riding in shorts, or climb a ladder in a skirt they would yell 'Get Landis!' and Landis was willin'. That made everybody happy except, maybe, the goody-goods and the bluenoses and I suspect they took a second peek now and then.". While working at the studio Busby encouraged her to change her hair from platinum blonde to brunette.


In 1938 she starred in the Warner Brother Academy radio show "Special Agent" and appeared on the cover of Pic magazine. That same year her estranged husband Irving Wheeler sued Busby Berkeley for alienation of affection. He lost the case but the bad publicity hurt Carole's reputation. When her contract ended in the summer Warner Brothers decided not to renew it. Soon after her relationship with Busby also came to an end. Nineteen year old Carole was now single and out of work.

Listen to Carole in Special Agent

Carole and Busby Berkeley

      Carole and Rosemary Lane in Gold Diggers In Paris                                                                           

 Carole on the Warner Brothers lot                                                             

With Sterling Holloway in Varsity Show

Sunday, April 9, 2017

Carole and Cesar Romeo

Cesar Romero was Carole's best friend and favorite leading man. She met him in 1941 when they costarred in the musical Dance Hall. It was the first of four movies they made together. Carole described Cesar as a gentleman with perfect manners. He escorted her to many Hollywood events and they often went out dancing together. Although gossip columnists claimed they were dating, Cesar was gay so there was no romance. It's rumored he once offered to marry Carole but she refused. Cesar was asked to be one of the pallbearers at her funeral. He died in 1994 at the age of eighty-six.
In an interview Carole said "Cesar Romero, beside being the greatest dance partner I've ever dance with, is the most, how shall I say it, soothing person. When you're with him you can completely relax, be at ease. You don't have to worry about making conversation, you can be absolutely natural. He is so sympathetic. He is one of those fellows everybody likes; he never puts on airs, is sensible, understanding, kindly, truly chivalrous. Just an all around good guy."

  Cesar wrote this about Carole after she died ...

"My dear Carole, I have been asked by some of your fans to write something about you in the way of a tribute so that it may be published in the club journal. I confess this is a job I have never had to do before and I don't know just how to start, so don't be too angry if I don't do you justice. You left the stage of life way too soon my dear and your friends and fans miss you very much. Personally I am very happy and proud to have been one of your friends and to have had the honor of working with you in four pictures. There was never a dull day on the set with you. Your lovely face, the warmth of your personality, your vitality and delightful sense of humor were something I always looked forward to and which made the average working day truly a pleasure. I remember the fun we had when we made "Dance Hall" together and what a wonderful sport you were on the nights that we had to work until five o'clock in the morning. You never complained about a thing, but took it in your stride as part of your job and loved every minute of it. I'm afraid that couldn't be said about all our fair ladies of the screen. You were a good actress Carole and you owe it only to yourself. You worked hard, studied and learned a great deal in a very short time. What is more important, you were a good daughter, sister and aunt. You loved your family and never shirked your duty toward them. You helped them in every way possible and brought them much happiness. Of that you can be extremely proud. I think that I can say in all honesty that you did more than your share in life. Your record during the war will always stand as a monument to your memory. The boys that you entertained overseas will never forget and neither will their families. You brought them cheer and a touch of home when they really needed it most. That was a tough job, as I know only too well, but as usual you sailed through it with flying colors - a trooper if there ever was one. You were a fine girl Carole, and you made every moment of your life count. I only wish that life had treated you as kindly as you treated it. As I said before, I'm proud to have been your friend. Sleep well my dear."

Carole LOVED Her Pets

Carole was a true animal lover! She shared her life with dozens of dogs, cats, and birds. In 1941 her boyfriend Gene Markey gave her a Great Dane he had originally bought for his ex-wife Hedy Lamarr. Carole quickly fell in love with the one hundred pound dog she named Donner. She called Donner her "baby" and always treated him like a person. Carole became superstitious about having her pets photographed after several animals died or were stolen shortly after their picture was taken. When she first got Donner she would not let him be photographed but soon he was joining her on photo shoots. In 1942 Donner appeared on the cover of Our Dogs magazine and the New York Sunday Mirror.

Carole's other pets included two poodles named Missy and Gina, a Siamese Cat named Miss C, and three Malamute Huskies named Lucky, Jinx, and Skeezix. The soldiers at Fort Ord gave her two puppies named Army and Navy. Carole was almost evicted from her Sunset Boulevard home because she had too many pets. She spent thousands of dollars on lawyers so she would not have to give away any of her beloved animals. Carole once told a friend she had planned to kill herself by driving her car off a hill but was saved when she saw a cat in the road and decided to rescue it. When Carole was a child she had a Cocker Spaniel who followed her everywhere.

In 1941 two of her Cocker Spaniels, Sensible and Foolish, appeared in the film Wild Geese Calling with Henry Fonda. Carole was devastated when Donner died from a sudden illness in 1943 and she vowed never to have another dog. A few months later she bought a Cocker Spaniel named Splash and another Great Dane named Dippy. She also adopted two kittens in 1947. When Carole died her sister Dorothy took all of her pets. Dorothy said "Carole never could stand to see an animal neglected, mistreated, or in discomfort. Even her devoted dogs - Dippy, the Great Dane, and Gina, the French poodle. They loved her and they miss her. Dippy still moons around forlornly, searching for Carole."

With her Great Dane Donner

 With her poodle Gina