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bansi4

"In the Spotlight"

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Early boardmembers of SAG

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Gleason (rear left) in white suit, wife Lucile is seated between

Alan Mowbray and Boris Karloff

 

Message was edited by: mongo

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Mongo, I just wanted to thank you for such a great thread! My schedule doesn't permit much time for following the posts here but yours is one I always look for. And the artwork is fantastic! Thanks again and please keep up the great work!

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lizimbrie, I appreciate your interest in the thread and I thank you.There are numerous other profiles waiting in the wings for you to enjoy.

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Mongo, thank you! Jimmy Gleason is one of the best actors in movies, and always brought a touch of sweetness to the part, even when he was playing a tough guy. You never fail!!!!

Nancy

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I loved the teaming of James Gleason with Edna May Oliver. I Remember seeing him in "Leave it to Beaver" and his role as Knobby Walsh in the Joe Palooka films. Another Great "In the Spotlight" Mr. Mongo.

 

 

vallo

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Thank you, vallo. I also enjoy the capers with Gleason and Miss Oliver. I don't believe that I ever saw him as Knobby Walsh in the Joe Palooka films.

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rainingviolets, thanks for your input. I do recall reading the Joe Palooka comics. As far as Russell Gleason, it appears he has some of Daniel Day-Lewis' features.

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In the Spotlight: VIRGINIA WEIDLER

 

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The delightful, talented moppet was born March 21, 1927 in Eagle Rock, California. She was one of six children born to Alfred Weidler, an architect, and Margaret Theres Louisa, a former opera singer.

 

Cast at age three in "Moby Dick" (1930) starring John Barrymore. She was assigned to play a tiny tot who had to remove her dress in front of the camera. Refusing to do so, she was replaced in the role. A year later she scored her first small movie bit in Warner Baxter's "Surrender" (1931) and was on her way.

 

Over the next few years, she played minor roles in films for RKO and Paramount Studios.

She was ably cast as rural tomboy types in "Laddie" (1935) and "Freckles" (1935), the latter film allowing her to do a dead-on parody of Shirley Temple.

She earned her first lead in "Girl of the Ozarks" (1936) and showed she could easily hold her own. After a rather unimpressive stint with Paramount where they tried to groom her as a rival to Fox's bratty Jane Withers, Virginia was finally picked up by MGM and her film career blossomed.

 

Her first film for MGM was opposite their leading male star Mickey Rooney in "Love Is a Headache" (1938). The film was a success and over the next few years, Weidler was regularly employed by the studio, usually playing precocious tom-boys. She proved a natural young comedienne and precocious scene-stealer in such films as "Out West with the Hardys" (1938), again with Rooney, and "Too Hot to Handle" with Gable and Loy. She could also shine in dramatic outings as she did with "The Lone Wolf Spy Hunt" (1939) and "Bad Little Angel" (1939).

She was one of the all-female cast of the 1939 film "The Women", as Norma Shearer's daughter, a role that was uncharacteristically sentimental for her.

 

Her next major success, and the film for which she is perhaps best remembered, was "The Philadelphia Story" (1940) in which she played Dinah Lord, the wise-cracking younger sister of Tracy Lord (Katharine Hepburn). Her tongue-in-cheek rendition of "Lydia the Tattooed Lady" at the piano is just one of many memorable highlights from this vintage classic.

 

She continued acting but by this time was maturing, and as a teenager was less popular with audiences. Virginia's career started to slip away from her when the teenage Shirley Temple signed with MGM, with "Plain-Jane" Virginia abruptly bumped back to secondary status.

After rather disappointing receptions to "Born to Sing" (1942), "The Youngest Profession" (1943) and "Best Foot Forward" (1943), the awkward teen had to face the music.

Her career at MGM was also stymied by Louis Mayer who refused to renew her contract. In the revealing biography "Picture Perfect" cameraman John Slokum revealed that Louis B. Mayer said Virginia's breasts looked like a couple of prunes and she would never have a career as an adult at MGM because of that.

 

Virginia left films and turned to vaudeville as a song-and-dance comedy performer, utilizing her full-scale talents as a mimic.

She graduated from Hollywood Professional School in June, 1944.

 

By her retirement at the age of 17, she had appeared in more than forty films, and had acted with some of the biggest stars of her era, including Clark Gable and Myrna Loy, Bette Davis in "All This, and Heaven Too" as one of Charles Boyer's children, and Judy Garland in "Babes on Broadway".

 

In 1947, Weidler married naval officer Lionel Krisel and had two sons named Ronnie and Gary.

 

Virginia had suffered from rheumatic fever as a child which resulted in a heart condition for many years.

On July 1, 1968, Weidler suffered a heart attack in Los Angeles, California and died. She was 42 years old. She was cremated and her ashes put out to sea.

 

"[When asked about her career in later years,] Virginia would always change the subject as quickly as possible without being rude. She never watched her old movies or replied to requests for interviews. Although she was never one to criticize, I think our boys got the impression that their mother didn't think very much of the motion picture industry." -- Lionel Krisel, Weidler's husband

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