Tuesday, February 13, 2018
Posted by RockyandNelson at 8:34 AM
Friday, February 9, 2018
Carole was born in Fairchild, Wisconsin in 1919. She visited Fairchild when she was an adult and many of her relatives still live in the area. The Fairchild Library has paid tribute to her by putting a large collection of Carole memorabilia on permanent display. There a beautiful wooden case full of rare photos and a large plaque dedicated to her. The library also has a painting of Carole from artist dick Bobnick. This project was funded by Carole's longtime fan Norman Boisclair and many of the photos were donated by Gwen Serna.
The Fairchild Library is located at 208 Huron Street in Fairchild, Wisconsin. You can get more information at their web site.
Saturday, February 3, 2018
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, February 2, 2018
Carole and her mother Clara had a very special bond ... Clara Sentek Ridste was my great-grandmother, an extraordinary and misunderstood woman. I have one memory of her when I was around two and she made me a blanket. She was trying to hug me but she squeezed really hard and my grandmother came and got me because it freaked me out!! Clara really did love her family and enjoyed having great-grandchildren. I think a lot of people didn't really understand Clara or the way it was back then for a single mom to raise her children. Her story has never been explained and we need to look deeper into the person she was. So I felt in my heart for Carole's mother whom she loved dearly and I wanted to open up and share a few things that were told to me about my great grandmother. The first thing to think about was the time that Clara was in and how hard it was for her to raise a family. Having two parents in the house was difficult enough but Clara had more stacked against her. She married Alfred at 17 and they were together for only a short time. By 1917 they had 4 children - Lawrence, Lewis, Jerome, and Dorothy. After the loss of their son Jerome Alfred had left Clara. She had to deal with the loss of a son, which I can't even know how to put into words how devastating that would be. Being a mother that would be your world crashing in on you. And then your husband leaves you and the children whom relied on having a family structure. They lost a brother and then their father. Clara soon found out she was expecting another child - Frances Lillian Mary (who would become Carole). Clara had a neighbor, Charley Fenner, whom she became close with and moved in with him. Now in that generation you didn't move in with a man and not be married.
Clara and Alfred Ridste Clara with Dorothy and Carole
Clara and Alfred Ridste Clara with Dorothy and Carole
I think she was sad and lonely that she needed companionship. Maybe she was a little liberal and a bit of feminist even though she didn't know what that meant then. She married Charley but after suffering a miscarriage she left him. She made a decision that she felt was best for her and the children. After that relationship didn't work she had no choice but to find housing that she could afford and work near by. She worked ALL THE TIME and was only able to see her children in between her jobs. Clara and the children lived in the poorest neighborhoods. There was a mix of African-Americans, Mexicans, and let's just say they were the outcasts that no one wanted in there areas. I think that was the best thing Clara did for her children. They had small living quarters which kept the family close and they never judged people by their color or race or religion. In Clara's eyes they were all the same and understood each other because they were all in the same bad situation. The people in the neighborhood became family and they helped out with the children. That was stepping way ahead of there time. That was a fundamental experience that molded Carole at such a young age and made into a better adult. Now Clara gets a rap for being very strict and some think that means she wasn't a loving mother. Well, she had to be that way to make sure her children were disciplined and kept safe.
Clara with Lawrence. Dorothy, and Carole
Clara didn't want her girls growing up. They both developed early so she made them wrap their breasts and they weren't allowed to date either. When Carole left at age 16 it was really hard for Clara. I think it was a feeling of abandonment due to her husbands leaving and she didn't really understand Carole's strong will spirit and determination to go out and fulfill her dreams. Clara became strict with Dorothy especially when she fell in love with my grandfather Walter. Not only did Carole elope but Dorothy took off with Walter and got married at 17. After not speaking to Dorothy for a while Clara made amends when she saw how good the two were together and that Walter took good care of her daughter. I think Clara was a stubborn women due to her situation in life and really didn't want her daughters to go through the same hardships. She was set in her ways and it took awhile for her to let some things go and just realize her girls turned into independent women who learned from their mother. As time passed she became a grandmother and enjoyed having grandchildren around. It was a second chance for her to love on the babies and see young children grow up. She was robbed of a lot of the joys of parenthood. She now could enjoy the time she spend with them all. Clara kept busy with Carole and she was very supportive of her life and what was going on in her daughters career. One of my favorite stories is that Carole came home from the studio to find a house full of servicemen. Great Grandma was cooking up a storm and told Carole "They needed a little piece of home". Of course Carole was tired but she loved giving to the men who were serving our country. They had a nice meal, went swimming, and were driven back.
Clara would go out with Carole, enjoyed the attention, and was proud of her daughter. Carole spoiled her and wanted to take care of her because she knew how hard Clara worked when she was a child. This was Carole's way of paying her back. They enjoyed shopping and having lunches, and of course Clara would live with Carole. That was a winning situation for them both. Carole loved having many animals (you could say a mini farm was in her house) and when she was gone doing the U.S.O. tours Clara would be the caretaker of the house and the pets. And I think Carole really needed her mother to be with her. It was a safe and comforting to know her mom was there. When Carole passed away she was so broken and really didn't know what to do. She and my grandmother really didn't believe she had killed herself. You can only imagine how she felt losing three children and Carole was the "baby" (that was Carole's nickname from her mom). Even though Carole had at other times written what I call "attention suicide letters" and I believe them to be only that, Clara and Dorothy did not feel this was one of those times. They couldn't prove it was foul play and there was a lot of circumstances that played a role in that, which I will address elsewhere on this web site.
Clara was a woman of strength - she pulled herself together and did what she always did when there was tragic that struck her in her life. In later years there was a fire in her home that burned her badly and she then lived with my grandmother. My mom (Sharon Ross) had helped take care of her and Clara knew she was loved. At her nursing home she kept a photo of Carole on her nightstand and a nurse told us it was the last thing she saw before she died. When she passed away in 1976 I know she left the good things that were installed in her children. Dorothy was a amazing mother and a hard worker and she got that from Clara. Carole was the one who made dreams come true and Clara lived through her. Some of her big dreams changed and took a different course but she never regretted her dedication to her family. My final thought on Clara is that I have a great grandmother who in spite of the hardships she encountered showed us that your will is what you make of it - take things as they come, be strong, and move forward. I am blessed that I have her to look at and know that I and other women can do the same. I have a love for her in seeing how my grandmother was and Carole as well. If they didn't have her as that strong mom they wouldn't have been such great and amazing women themselves.
~ Written by Tammy Powell, Carole's great-niece and Clara's great-granddaughter
Clara with her grandchildren
Thursday, February 1, 2018
On January 5, 1943 Carole married Captain Thomas Wallace in London, England. He was a twenty-five year old pilot and part of the Royal Air Force's American "Eagle Squadron". Carole met him on November 13, 1942 when she was entertaining soldiers in England. She said "Something hit me right in the heart. I only looked at him for a minute, but I saw his wonderful dimples, his tremendously expressive eyes, his curly hair." Thomas Cherry Wallace was born in Oakdale, Pennsylvania on October 15, 1917. After his father died in 1933 he moved to Pasadena with his mother. Tommy worked as a bank clerk before joining the Air Force.
He proposed to Carole on their first date and gave her his signet ring. The wedding was almost cancelled when Carole suffered an appendicitis a week before the ceremony. She recovered and asked the doctor who removed her appendix to give her away. The Catholic ceremony took place at the Church of Our Lady Of Assumption on Warrick Street. Carole wore a cream colored satin dress designed by Norman Hartnell, a strand of pearls, and orange blossoms in her hair. Her bouquet was made of white carnations and orchids. Mitzi Mayfair and Kay Francis were among the guests. Hundreds of fans waited outside the church to see the bride and groom. Tommy told reporters "I am probably the luckiest man in the world".
Carole said "I want to have a wonderful marriage and children whom I may love and make a fuss over long after the movies are gone." She wrote about their romance in her book Four Jills In A Jeep and the wedding was recreated in the 1944 film. The newlyweds had no honeymoon because Carole traveled to North Africa three days after the wedding to perform for the troops. Tommy was stationed overseas during most of their marriage so they spent very little time together. She wrote to him every day they were apart and kept six photos of him in her bedroom. Tommy hated her Hollywood lifestyle and wanted her to give up her career to become a housewife.
When their marriage started to fall apart Carole attempted suicide. The couple separated in October 1944 and were divorced the following year. Carole always considered Tommy the great love of her life. In an interview she said "No woman ever loved a man more than I loved Tommy Wallace. And Tommy loved me, too. All my life, above all the rest, I want to remember that." Tommy married his second wife JoAnne Doherty in 1946. They moved to England and had two sons. He served in the Air Force during the Korean war and later worked for Goodyear. Tragically on November 16, 1968 Tommy died in an accidental shooting at the age of fifty-one.