Thursday, January 15, 2015

Stars and Starlets, Both Had Their Roles to Play

Just love the promotional stills when the studio was doing Bob's he's-now-a-star campaign.  It was in full force with the making of Shipmates (1931) and still going during the making of The Man in Possession (1931), as displayed in the photo below.  (This gorgeous double-weight print came from the estate of director Sam Woods, shown on the far right.)  The MGM starlets were kept busy supporting Bob in his campaign, and evidently much appreciated by the newly-minted "Star." 

 Joan Marsh, Lillian Bond, Bob, Dorothy Lee, Unknown, Karen Morley   and Sam Woods on the set of  The Man in Possession.

Most of the female contract players' careers did not last any longer than their short term contracts.  Having a successful career in the movies was indeed the exception for these young girls.  Joan Marsh had a chance at grabbing the gold ring.  In 1931 she signed a contract at MGM when she was 18, or 17, depending on the source.  She is placed on the cover of Movie Classic Magazine, and compared to Garbo. 

The studio tries out various "looks" ... Jean Harlow, anyone?!

Of course, there's the swimsuit shot, displaying the starlet's better attributes ...

And the I'll-do-anything-you-tell-me-to-do stills...

Joan had bit parts in a half-dozen films at MGM.  Her first movie was Inspiration (1930), and will also appear with Bob in Shipmates.  Below she is shown dancing with Bob accompanying her on the piano during a break in the filming. 

When her contract ends at MGM, Joan continues to work at various studios, never past the bit part at the major studios, the leading lady in a few Poverty Row films.  She does show up in a Bob movie one more time.  In Fast and Loose (1939) she has a good-sized supporting role as the bad girl who gets our hero Joel Sloane in trouble with all-knowing spouse Garda - Roz Russell, of course.  I wonder if Bob had anything to do with her getting the part. 

        Sidney Blackmer, Bob and Joan Marsh in Fast and Loose.

Joan makes her last movie in 1944, retiring at the advanced age of 31.  She married her second husband in 1943, a marriage that produces two children and lasts until his death in 1994.  Joan lives on until 2000, age 86.  I'd say she was one of the lucky starlets. 

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