One of Hollywood’s best “hard-luck” blondes of the 30’s and legend has it Anita Loos’ inspiration for Lorelei Lee of “Gentlemen Prefer Blondes”, no one was more resilient than Mae Clarke (1910-1992). Her life was not unlike the plot of one of her films. Born in Philadelphia her father was a theater organist. Growing up in Atlantic City she was dancing by 13. Discovered by a Broadway Producer she then moved into nightclubs, vaudeville with her first husband and finally the legit theater and Broadway in “The Noose” with one time roommate Stanwyck. A successful screen-test at Fox resulted in a contract making her debut in “Big Time” with Tracy. It wasn’t. Top billed in “Nix on Dames” and a couple of more films later without making a big impact she had moved to Universal with more success. “Waterloo Bridge” as its tragic dancer turned prostitute was her favourite film and well received but modest. “The Front Page” as the pathetic but devoted Molly Malloy was a hit. Best remembered in Whale’s classic “Frankenstein” opposite Clive as his bride. It was her best film experience, a big hit and her most enduring film. “The Public Enemy” made a Star of Cagney and although his costar was Harlow it was Clarke taking that grapefruit in the face that became an iconic moment in film history. She came back for more punishment with Cagney in “Lady Killer.” “The Good Bad Girl”, “Reckless Living”, “Three Wise Girls” with Harlow, “Night World” with Ayres, “Parole Girl”, “Fast Workers” with Gilbert, the titles told the story. No less effective than tougher broads of the pre-code era her career ran out of steam by the mid-30’s. A serious breakdown and then two years later in a serious car accident with drunken Phillips Holmes at the wheel and she was now either the lead in B’s or well down the cast list in an A “Penthouse”, “Nana.” The Wayne hit “Flying Tigers”, the Goddard smash “Kitty” both in very small roles and after the serial “King of the Rocket Men” it was usually now unbilled bit parts in films with more notable work on TV. In retirement teaching acting and painting but always the star, poignant, tough, blonde and very believable for depression audiences.
Actor, director, and writer James Gleason was born in New York City on May 23, 1882 and began working at an early age before joining the U.S. Army. He pursued an acting career and made his Broadway debut in Pretty Mrs. Smith on September 21, 1914. He continued acting on Broadway and made his first film in 1922, before having his first play, Is Zat So?, produced on Broadway in 1925. He returned to film acting in 1928 and became a popular character actor for various studios from the 1930s to the early 1950s. He earned an Academy Award nomination for his supporting performance in Here Comes Mr. Jordan (1942). Several of his Broadway plays were made into films through the late 1920s and 1930s; he also wrote and contributed to several screenplays. Come the 1950s, he acted primarily on television with the occasional film appearance. His last film was The Last Hurrah (1958). He married actress Lucille Gleason, and they were the parents of actor Russell Gleason. Both his wife and son predeceased him. He was a Roman Catholic and a veteran of the Spanish American War & World War I. He died April 12, 1959 in Los Angeles, California. This still of him and Lee Tracy was from Clear All Wires! (1933). #jamesgleason #leetracy #georgewhill #delmerdaves #norbertbrodine #hughwynn #clearallwires
! #mgm #precode #classichollywood #broadwayactor #menwithstyle #newyorker #veteran #romancatholic #playwright #screenwriter #actor #director #academyawardnominee #mustache