Sunday, July 26, 2015
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. He helped Carole get a contract at Warner Brothers for $50 a week. She was given bit parts in more than a dozen films including Hollywood Hotel, Gold Diggers In Paris, Blondes At Work, and The Patient In Room 18. While working at the studio she changed her hair from platinum blonde to brunette. When her contract ended in 1938 Warner Brothers decided not to renew it. Shortly after her relationship with Busby also came to an end. Here are some photos from Carole's year at Warner Brothers ...
Carole and Sterling Holloway in Varsity Show
Tuesday, July 21, 2015
Carole's early days were filled with heartache and dreams of stardom. She was born in Fairchild, Wisconsin on New Year's Day 1919. Carole was the youngest of five children. She was such a beautiful baby that she was nicknamed "Baby Doll". Soon after Carole's birth her father, Alfred Ridste, abandoned the family and her mother, Clara Zentek Ridste, married a man named Charles Fenner. There are rumors that Charles is Carole's biological father. Clara divorced Charles in 1921 and moved the family to San Bernardino, California. Although they were poor Clara always made sure her children were taken care of. Carole became very close to her older sister Dorothy who often watched her while Clara worked. Tragically two of her brothers died very young. Sixteen month old Jerome was killed in 1917 when a pot of boiling water fell on him. Ten year old Lewis died in 1925 after he was accidentally shot with gun. Carole was raised a Catholic and attended church every Sunday. Her philosophy was "Pass the good deed along". According to family sources Carole was sexually molested by a relative during her childhood.
Carole at age three
Carole with her mother Clara in 1923
Carole with her mother Clara in 1923
At age nine she ran on stage during a local talent show and began to sing. She loved watching movies and covered her walls with photos of Mary Astor, Russ Columbo, and Clark Gable. Using make-up tricks to look older Carole started entering beauty pageants when she was twelve. She won a pair of silk stockings and an electric heater but her mother made her stop competing because she was too young. In high school she became boy crazy and often skipped her classes. She earned money by working at a hamburger stand and a movie theater. Carole married her first love, Irving Wheeler, in 1934 but walked out on him after three weeks. When she was sixteen she decided to leave home and pursue her dream of becoming a star. She later said "Although I avoided dramatics - and everything else - in school. I wanted to be a success on the stage, the screen, or the radio. So I saved my money and when I had bus fare and $16.82 over, I told my mother, Clara, I was going to leave home. She was heartbroken, but she believed in me."
Carole, her first husband Irving Wheeler, and her sister Dorothy in 1933
Left to Right: Carole's brother Lewis, her brother Lawrence, Carole, her mother Clara, her sister Dorothy
Left to Right: Carole's brother Lewis, her sister Dorothy. her father Alfred, Carole, her brother Lawrence
Carole and her sister Dorothy in 1931
Left to right: Carole's sister-in-law Helen Ridste, her sister Dorothy, her mother Clara, and Carole
Carole at age fifteen
Carole's brother Jerome who died in 1917
Carole's father Alfred Ridste
* Thank you to Carole's family for allowing us to use their photos *
Monday, July 20, 2015
Charles Mitchell, Marguerite Chapman, Rory Calhoun, and Carole
Larry Parks, Betty Garrett, and Carole
Horace Schmidlapp, Betty Garrett, Rory Calhoun, Carole, Franchot Tone, and Charles Mitchell
Friday, July 17, 2015
Carole had one of the most enviable figures in Hollywood. Her measurements were 37 (bust) 24 (waist) 35 (hips) . She was always being asked to pose for pin-up photos. Carole said "A bathing suit is a girl's best friend in Hollywood. No girl should consider herself too important for that kind of publicity."
Monday, July 13, 2015
In 1938 Carole was supposed to have a role in the prison drama Girls On Probation. Her name appears in the cast list in several magazine articles. At the time she was under contract at Warner Brothers. Ronald Reagan, Jane Bryan, and Anthony Averill were the stars of Girls On Probation. Fans who have seen the movie have not been able to find Carole in it. Was she replaced by another actress or was her part cut out of the film? You can watch the entire movie at The Internet Archive