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"In the Spotlight"


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newclassicfilmfan, when I initiated the 'In the Spotlight' thread It was dedicated to those movie stars that are literally forgotten and who are seldom mentioned on the boards and include supporting and character players.

Holden, Poitier and Widmark are prominent stars. Linda Darnell will be featured 'In the Spotlight' in April.

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Hey Mongo! What better woman to have "In the Spotlight" than one of Cagney's favorite tackle dummy, Mae Clark?


In 1931's "Public Enemy", he shoved a grapefruit in poor Mae's face!

In 1933's "Lady Killer" Cagney dragged her around by poor Mae's hair!


Like Jack Nicholson said in "A Few Good Men"


"I think Mae Clark deserves a "Spotlight", I'm sure she's earned it!"



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In the Spotlight: Alan Curtis


Born Harry Ueberroth on July 24, 1909 in Chicago, Illinois and although had the potential somehow didn't grasp the brass ring.


Tall, dark and handsome leading man Alan Curtis worked as a male model before his 1936 film debut in "Winterset".


After a few years of "other man" roles, Curtis signed with Universal Pictures, where, among many other assignments, he played the romantic lead in "Mannequin" with Joan Crawford.

His best assignment at Universal was as the meticulously set-up murder suspect in the moody "Phantom Lady" with Ella Raines (1945).

Among his last solid film roles was the title character in "Philo Vance's Gamble" (1946).


Other films included, "China Passage", "Yellow Jack" with Robert Montgomery, "The Shopworn Angel", "Sergeant Madden", "Good Girls Go to Paris", "Hollywood Cavalcade" with Alice Faye, "Four Sons" good role as a Nazi, "High Sierra" as Ida Lupino's abusive lover, "Buck Privates" with Abbott & Costello, "New Wine", "Hitler's Madman", "Destiny", "Shady Lady", etc.

His last 3 films were made in Italy.


A ladies man Alan Curtis was married five times; his wives included actresses Priscilla Lawson (was Princess Aura in the "Flash Gordon" serials) and Ilona Massey (his co-star in "New Wine").


In the early 1950s, Curtis made headlines when he was revived on the operating table after being declared officially dead.

He eventually died in New York on February 2, 1953 of complication of surgery at age 53.

He is resting at Memorial Park Cemetery and Crematorium in Skokie, Illinois in an unmarked grave.


The actor has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

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The Death of Alan Curtis


Vallo, I uncovered some additional information regarding Alan Curtis' health.


1952 saw Curtis skating on very thin ice. His savings dwindled to practically nothing as his nighttime activities raged on.

To a large degree, he was living in a state of denial, especially when it came to the matter of his health.


Two decades of partying had now taken its toll and Curtis began to experience mounting physical discomfort.

A devout Christian Scientist, he had seldom sought medical help.


However as 1953 arrived, his pain became intolerable and he turned to a doctor.

He was diagnosed with a serious kidney problem that needed immediate surgical attention.

An operation was performed on January 25th at St. Clare's Hospital in midtown Manhattan.


Three hours after the operation he went into cardiac arrest. His heart would stop beating for a full four minutes.

The doctors reacted quickly, cut open his chest and started to viorously massage his heart, for over two hours.

Although he improved, the 'miracle' was not to last. Within a matter of days, his heart finally gave out.


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In the Spotlight: Mamie Van Doren


Mamie was born Joan Lucille Olander on February 6, 1931 in Rowena, South Dakota.

She is of three-quarters Swedish ancestry; the remainder is mixed English and German.

Her mother named her after Joan Crawford. In 1939, the family moved to Sioux City, Iowa. In May 1942, they moved to Los Angeles.


In early 1946, Joan began working as an usherette at the Pantages Theatre in Hollywood. The following year, she had a bit-part on an early television show. She also sang with Ted Fio Rito's band and entered beauty contests. In the summer of 1949, at age 18, she won the titles "Miss Eight Ball" and "Miss Palm Springs".


While appearing in the Miss Palm Springs contest, she was discovered by Howard Hughes.

She lunched with Hughes, who gave her a bit-part in "Jet Pilot" at RKO, which was her motion picture debut. Her line of dialogue consisted of one word, "Look!" Though production of the movie was in 1949 and 1950, it was not released until 1957.

The following year, 1951, she posed for famous pin-up girl artist Alberto Vargas, the painter of the glamorous "Varga Girls." His painting of Van Doren was on the July cover of Esquire.


She was briefly married at seventeen, when she and first husband, Jack Newman, eloped to Santa Barbara. The marriage dissolved quickly, upon discovery of his abusive nature.


She did a few more bit parts in movies at RKO, including "His Kind of Woman" (1951) starring Robert Mitchum, Jane Russell and Vincent Price. About her appearance in that one, Van Doren has said, "If you blinked you would miss me. I look barely old enough to drive."


She then began working on the stage. She was a showgirl in New York in Monte Proser's nightclub version of "Billion Dollar Baby". While appearing in the role of Marie in a showcase production of "Come Back, Little Sheba", she was seen by Phil Benjamin, a casting director at Universal International.


In 1953, she signed a contract with Universal. The studio had big plans for her, hoping she would bring the success that 20th Century Fox had with Marilyn Monroe, the reigning sex symbol of the era. It has been said that because the day she was signed was also the day President Eisenhower was inaugurated, the studio decided to give her the name Mamie for Ike's wife, Mamie Eisenhower, and Van Doren because it sounds Dutch.


Her first movie for Universal was "Forbidden" (1953), playing a singer. She then made "All-American" (1953), playing Susie Ward, a girl from the other side of the tracks who is the man-trap at a campus beer joint. In "Yankee Pasha" (1954) starring Jeff Chandler and Rhonda Fleming, she played a slave girl, Lilith.


Van Doren starred as the "bad girl" archetype in several teenage cult movies of the 1950s. She also appeared in some of the first movies to feature Rock & Roll music. She became identified with this rebellious style, and made some Rock records.


While she and the other blonde bombshells did not attain the same level of superstar status as Monroe, Van Doren did become one of the leading sex symbols of the day. Marilyn, Mamie and Jayne Mansfield were known as the "Three M's," and Van Doren achieved legendary status as being the sole survivor (although she was referred to as "the poor man's Mansfield").


But while Monroe did "Gentlemen Prefer Blondes" and Mansfield had a big success with "Will Success Spoil Rock Hunter?", a part that was originally written for Van Doren, who turned it down, Universal stuck Van Doren with Francis the Talking Mule in "Francis Joins the WACS".


Van Doren has had five husbands, sportswear manufacturer Jack Newman (married 1950-divorced 1950), bandleader, composer and actor Ray Anthony (married 1955-divorced 1961), baseball player Lee Meyers (married 1966-divorced 1967), businessman Ross McClintock (married 1972-divorced 1973) and actor Thomas Dixon (married 1979-present).

She and Anthony had one son, Perry Ray Anthony (born March 18, 1956).


Her on-again off-again engagement to baseball player Bo Belinsky broke off for good in 1964. In her tell-all autobiography, she acknowledged numerous affairs, including ones with Clark Gable, Howard Hughes, Johnny Carson, Elvis Presley, Burt Reynolds, Jack Dempsey, Steve McQueen, Johnny Rivers, Robert Evans, Eddie Fisher, Warren Beatty, Tony Curtis, Steve Cochran, and Joe Namath.


Some of Van Doren's more noteworthy movies include "Teacher's Pet" (1958) at Paramount, "Born Reckless" (1958) at Warner Bros., "High School Confidential" (1958), and "The Beat Generation" (1959), the latter two at MGM.


But many of the productions she starred in were low-budget B-movies. They are largely unknown to later generations, though some have gained a following for their high camp value. Besides the casting decisions at Universal, a problem was her poor management in selecting a suitable project.


In 1959, Universal chose not to exercise the option in her contract. Van Doren was now a free agent and had to struggle to find work. Some of her later movies were foreign and independent productions, such as "The Blonde from Buenos Aires" (1961), "The Candidate" (1964), "The Navy vs the Night Monsters" (1966) and "Voyage to the Planet of Prehistoric Women" (1968), which was directed by Peter Bogdanovich, who used another name.


In 1963, she posed twice for Playboy to promote her movie "Three Nuts In Search of a Bolt" (1964), though she was never a Playmate.


In 1964, Van Doren was at the Whisky a Go Go on the Sunset Strip in West Hollywood when The Beatles were at the club visiting with Jayne Mansfield, and a drunk George Harrison accidentally threw his drink on Mamie when he was really trying to throw it on some bothersome journalists.


Van Doren also developed a nightclub act and did a lot of live theatre. She performed in stage productions of "Gentlemen Prefer Blondes" and "Dames at Sea" at the Drury Lane Theatre, Chicago, and appeared in "Will Success Spoil Rock Hunter" and "The Tender Trap".


During the war, she did tours for U.S. troops in Vietnam, for three months in 1968 and again in 1970. In addition to USO shows, she visited hospitals, including the wards of amputees and burn victims that many other celebrities stayed away from.


Her guest appearances on TV include "The Bob Cummings Show", "The Jack Benny Show", "Fantasy Island", "Burke's Law", "Vega$", and "L.A. Law".

In the 1970s, she did a nightclub act in Las Vegas.


Van Doren's autobiography, "Playing the Field: My Story" 1987, brought much new attention to the veteran sex symbol and proved to be her biggest media splash in over 25 years. Since the book's publication she has often been interviewed and profiled and has occasionally returned to acting.


At age 60, she underwent cosmetic surgery. In interviews, she has consistently denied ever having breast implants. In 2006, Mamie posed for photographs for Vanity Fair with Pamela Anderson as part of their annual Hollywood issue.


At 76 Mamie is looking good, still going strong and maintains a harmonious relationship with her husband, Thomas.


Quoted: "I came to Hollywood determined to follow in Jean Harlow's footsteps, but I was determined not to die young. My hope was to endure. And endure I have."


Miss Van Doren has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

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I kind of liked Mamie! The picture I remember her most in is 1958's "High School Confidential", not only because of Jerry Lee Lewis rocking song but her trying to seduce Russ Tamblyn while sharing an apartment and posing as his "Aunt". He refused her advances and we said he's nuts! I think Van Doren was a much better looking Mamie than Eisenhower, the wife of our 34th President. I think she deserves to be on the walk of fame more so than Donald Trump!

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Hi Mongo,


I liked Mamie also. She was harmless and fun and it may surprise people, she was a good mother... Her son, Perry, was a very nice, polite and well behaved little boy.

She did make a real mistake in divorcing Ray Anthony, who truly loved her.


Bartlett -

Mamie Eisenhower was a lovely woman. Very gracious and a fine example of what a First Lady should be. She was a very good friend of my grandmother and so was Ike.


BTW, I think it is true that Mamie van Doren was named after Mamie Eisenhower. It was well publicized at the time.



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