On the set of
“There’s No Business Like Show Business” (1954)
“There’s No Business Like Show Business” is a 1954 20th Century-Fox musical-comedy-drama starring Ethel Merman, Dan Dailey, Donald O’Connor, Mitzi Gaynor, Marilyn Monroe, Richard Eastham, and Johnnie Ray. The film was directed by Walter Lang and written by Lamar Trotti (story) and Phoebe Ephron and Henry Ephron with music by Irving Berlin. “There’s No Business Like Show Business” was filmed in CinemaScope and DeLuxe Color.
Eleanore Whitney was a film and Broadway actress and dancer who had a brief career in Hollywood during the mid to late 1930s.
Eleanore Whitney was born Eleanor Wittenbergon on April 12, 1917 in Cleveland, Ohio, USA to Abraham and Anna Wittenburg. Eleanore’s mother Anna was the sister of Adolph Zukor, who was already a wealthy businessman and would later become the founder of Paramount and a powerful figure in old Hollywood. When Whitney was ten years old she met Bill ‘Bojangles’ Robinson backstage at the Palace Theatre in Cleveland. Robinson was so taken by Whitney’s dancing that he took to giving her lessons whenever he was in the city. Later he offered to teach her each day during a two month stay in New York and was instrumental in the start of her career. As a student of Robinson’s, Whitney landed roles in several Broadway productions. Whitney also appeared in vaudeville with Jack Benny and Rudy Vallee before going to Hollywood in 1935. During her brief career in Hollywood, Whitney appeared in several comedies and musicals for Paramount Studios such as “Rose Bowl” (1936), “Three Cheers for Love” (1936), “Timothy’s Quest” (1936), and “Campus Confessions” (1938) which co-starred Betty Grable in her first starring role. Never having reached A-status as an actress with Paramount, the then twenty-one year old Eleanore Whitney retired from Hollywood in 1939 after marrying former U.S. assistant Attorney Frederick Backer. They couple lived in Manhattan and had one daughter together, Nancy Anne Backer, born in 1941. Whitney would continue to dance for fun, sometimes giving dancing lessons, and in 1946 would play Lucille Jourdain in “The Would-be Gentleman” on Broadway. Whitney and Backer would remain married until his death in 1971. Whitney did not remarry after the death of her husband and lived the rest of her life in New York City. Eleanore Whitney died November, 1983 in New York City, New York.
Nancy Kelly (March 25, 1921 – January 2, 1995) was an American actress who was a Hollywood leading lady in the late 1930s and 1940s, making thirty-six movies total between 1926 and 1977. Kelly was also the older sister of actor Jack Kelly, who played “Bart Maverick” alongside James Garner and Roger Moore in the 1957 television series Maverick.
Nancy Kelly was born March 25, 1921 in Lowell, Massachusetts. Kelly started in show business as a one-year-old model for James Montgomery Flagg. By the time she was nine years old, Kelly had appeared in so many different advertisements that Film Daily called her “the most photographed child in America due to commercial posing.” In 1929, as an eight year old, she appeared on Broadway in a revival of “Macbeth”. Kelly also played Dorothy Gale in a 1933 to 1934 radio show based on the The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. Kelly’s film debut was in the 1926 silent film “The Untamed Lady” which starred Gloria Swanson. In 1929, Kelly had a small role in the silent version of “The Great Gatsby” which starred Warner Baxter and William Powell. As an adult Kelly was a leading lady in twenty-seven movies in the 1930s and 1940s, including portraying Tyrone Power’s love interest in the classic “Jesse James” (1939) which also featured Henry Fonda and playing opposite Spencer Tracy in “Stanley and Livingstone” (1939). Other movies of note Kelly starred in include director John Ford’s “Submarine Patrol” (1938), “Tail Spin” (1939) with Alice Faye, the comedy “He Married His Wife” (1940) with Joel McCrea, “Frontier Marshal” (1939) with Randolph Scott as Wyatt Earp, and “Tarzan’s Desert Mystery” (1943) with Johnny Weismuller. In between films Kelly worked the stage and was subsequently a two-time winner of the Sarah Siddons Award for her work in Chicago theatre as well as a Tony Award winner for her performance in “The Bad Seed”, a 1954 play by American playwright Maxwell Anderson. In 1956, Kelly followed up by starring in the film version of “The Bad Seed” for which she received an Academy Award nomination for Best Actress in a Leading Role, but lost to Ingrid Bergman’s “Anastasia” (1956).
After “The Bad Seed” Nancy Kelly appeared almost exclusively on television. In 1957 she was nominated for an Emmy Award for Best Single Performance by an Actress for the TV episode “The Pilot” (1956) in Studio One. Kelly’s other television appearances include leading roles in “Circle of the Day” (1957) episode of Playhouse 90, “The Storm” (1961) episode of Thriller and “The Lonely Hours” (1963) episode of The Alfred Hitchcock Hour. Her last role was in the 1977 made for television film “Murder at the World Series” (1977).
Nancy Kelly was married three times. Her first marriage was to actor Edmond O’Brien in February 1941. They were divorced one year later in February 1942. Kelly’s second marriage was to Fred Jackman Jr., the son of silent Hollywood cameraman and director Fred Jackman. They were married February 14, 1946 and divorced in January of 1950. Her third marriage was to theatre director Warren Caro on November 25, 1955. The couple had a daughter together, Kelly Caro in 1957. That marriage also ended in divorce in September of 1968.
Nancy Kelly died from complications of diabetes on January 2, 1995 in Bel Air, California. She was interred in the Westwood Village Memorial Park Cemetery in Los Angeles.
For her contribution to the motion picture industry, Nancy Kelly has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 7021 Hollywood Blvd.
Peggy Dow made nine films in Hollywood from 1949-51 when she suddenly walked away from stardom to get married and raise a family.
Peggy Dow was born Margaret Josephine Varnadow on March 18, 1928 in Columbia, Mississippi. Her father was business man and the family moved from place to place. They finally settled in Louisiana where Dow attended both Louisiana State University and Northwestern State University. While at college Dow majored in drama and appeared in several college plays. After brief modeling and radio experience, she was spotted by a talent agent and cast in a TV show in February 1949. Shortly after that exposure, Universal offered her a seven-year contract. Dow made a successful feature film debut co-starring with Scott Brady in the thriller “Undertow” (1949) and then a second successful appearance in “Woman in Hiding” (1950) which co-starred Ida Lupino and Stephen McNally. She went on to make nine films in three years, with her most notable role in 1950 as Nurse Kelly in the hit comedy “Harvey” with James Stewart. Dow also starred with Arthur Kennedy in the touching war drama “Bright Victory” (1951), the story of a soldier who is blinded and must learn to readjust to civilian life. Proving she could handle both comedic and dramatic roles, her star was on the rise when she decided to walk away from it all after only three years in Hollywood.
Despite a promising Hollywood career, Peggy Dow suddenly retired from the film business in 1951 to marry Walter Helmerich, an oil driller. The couple relocated to Tulsa, Oklahoma and had five sons together, Rik, Zak, Mat, Hans, Jon, and twelve grandchildren.
In 1998 Peggy Dow received an honorary degree from the University of Oklahoma for her devotion to improving health care education and cultural events in Tulsa. Dow helped establish the Tulsa Library Trust and the Peggy V. Helmerich Distinguished Author Award given each year to writers on behalf of the Tulsa community.
Lois Moran (March 1, 1909 – July 13, 1990) was an American film actress who appeared in over thirty motion pictures from 1924 to 1931, but her major claim to fame was probably as F. Scott Fitzgerald’s inspiration for the character of “Rosemary” in his classic novel ‘Tender Is the Night’ (1934).
Lois Moran was born Lois Darlington Dowlin on March 1, 1909 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. She trained in dance as a child and in 1919 at the age of ten, Moran moved to Paris with her mother to study seriously. She danced and sang for several years at the Paris National Opera and appeared in two silents in the early 1920s while still in France. Moran returned to America where she made a highly successful screen debut as the daughter of Stella Dallas (played by Belle Bennett) in the classic silent “Stella Dallas” (1925). Lois Moran went on to appear in over thirty movies and shorts during her career appearing with such actors as Lon Chaney, Al Jolson, Ronald Colman, John Gilbert, Richard Barthelmess, Warner Baxter, and Douglas Fairbanks, Jr. Moran’s credits include the silent hit “The Road to Mandalay” (1926) and early sound movies such as “Behind That Curtain” (1929) and early musicals such as “A Song of Kentucky” (1929), “Words and Music” (1929), and “Mammy” (1930). Like many actors and actresses from the silent film era, Lois Moran did not make a successful transition from silents to talkies. In 1931 Moran left movies and turned to Broadway with lead singing roles in the highly successful George and Ira Gershwin musical satire “Of Thee I Sing” and its somewhat less popular sequel “Let ‘Em Eat Cake.”
Lois Moran reportedly had a brief affair with writer F. Scott Fitzgerald while he was a screenwriter in Hollywood and was an inspiration for the character of Rosemary Hoyt in Fitzgerald’s novel ‘Tender is the Night’ (1934). Fitzgerald once remarked that Moran was “The most beautiful girl in Hollywood”.
In 1935, Lois Moran married Clarence M. Young, the Assistant Secretary of Commerce, retiring from Hollywood and Broadway. Moran came back briefly in a role in the short-lived TV series “Waterfront” (1954–1955). The show starred Preston Foster as Capt. John Herrick and Lois Moran as his wife May Herrick. In her later years Moran settled in Sedona, Arizona with her husband (he died in 1972) where she ran a weekly local column for a time.
Lois Moran died of cancer on July 13, 1990 in Sedona at age 81.