Wednesday, August 07, 2013

Irene Purcell, the Future Mrs. Johnson Wax

  The Man in Possession (1931) with Beryl Mercer, C. Aubrey Smith,                   Reginald Owen, Irene Purcell and Bob.

Irene Purcell, Bob's co-star in the delightful pre-code romp The Man in Possession, was born on August 7, 1896 --- or 1901 per the engraving on the Johnson family crypt.  (Like she was the only person in Hollywood who shaved a few years off her birth date...)  Irene came to Hollywood from the stage to make a half dozen features in 1931 and 1932, and then left the movies, to go back to the stage, I'm assuming.  There just is not much information on Irene out there. 

I did discover that in 1941 she married Herbert Fisk Johnson, Jr., the third generation Johnson to run the Johnson Wax Co.  With the marriage, she moved into Herbert's home outside Racine, Wisconsin. Wingspread, as it was named, was designed by Frank Lloyd Wright and constructed in 1937-1938.  Coming in at a mere 14,000 sq. ft., there were four wings (private wing, children's wing, guest rooms and servant quarters) that extended from a massive multi-storied open area used for communal functions such as dining and entertaining.  

                  Wingspread, built in 1938 by Frank Lloyd Wright

In the 1950s,  the Johnson Wax Co. would become a principal sponsor of Robert Montgomery Presents.   Do you think there were jokes on the set about Bob sleeping with the Boss's wife? 


Kristina said...

Very interesting! I wondered about Irene when I watched this movie recently, looked her up in some old books but didnt find much. Related: we should all give our homes names, don't you think? :)

Kathy said...

She was so good in the movie, have never understood why her movie career was so brief. One other bit of information that I ran across: In the summer of 1920 she became engaged to Ives de Villers, a wealthy Canadian, who purchased for her a small island on the St. Laurence River with a summer cottage. After an argument, de Villers was so offended that when she was away performing on stage, he had the cottage dismantled and removed from the island. The engagement was over when Irene returned to her now empty island. Sounds just like a scene from a movie!

Considering the lack of house cleaning I do, I think the nickname "Dusty" would be most fitting for my home.

Kristina said...

Ha! That story is excellent. "Cottage? What cottage?" Wonder if it had a name. "Mirage"

Kathy said...

Mirage...good one.

Timothy said...

This is cool!

Kathy said...

Thanks, Timothy. Ya' know, it's been a while since anyone said one of my blogs was "cool". Makes my day.