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Tuesday, October 23, 2012



Vargas poster girl Boots Mallory as a Ziegfield Girl 1931.  More photos at end of blog.

CLASSIC STARLET--One-hundred, two years ago, today, Patricia “Boots” Mallory was born and raised in either New Orleans or Mobile, Alabama.  Hers is a classic American Hollywood story of a tall, blonde, blue-eyed teenage beauty from the south, who by age 12 is playing banjo in an all girl band and dancing in vaudeville shows and by 18 is “discovered” by both New York stage and Hollywood movie producers.

Sometime before summer of 1931, she’s discovered by Florenz Ziegfield, the most famous Broadway impresario of the day, who puts her into his show’s chorus line.  The Broadway show ends the same year, but she makes an impression on Hollywood producers and she’s brought to LA, where she’s put under contract by 20th Century Fox.

In California, she gets the starlet treatment, including being photographed by top studio photographer George Hurrell.  She gets roles in several new “talkies,” but none make her a star.  She divorces her first husband, who married her at 16 and falls in love and marries a Hollywood producer.

By 1938, at age 25, she makes her last film.  Now, a Hollywood wife, she and her husband adopt twins.   In 1947, she divorces husband number two and by 1948 is married to a popular British actor.  Ten years later, she dies from throat cancer.

Flash back to New York in 1931.  Alberto Vargas was perhaps the most famous pin-up artist of all time. Born in 1896, his career started with the Ziegfeld follies. He painted many of the Ziegfeld Girls, including the iconic “Follies Girl” which appeared on the cover of the 1931 Follies, the show’s final season.

The girl on that cover is not identified by name, but the resemblance to Boots Mallory is very close.  The skimpy pose would not have been a first for Boots as she did pose for lingerie photos early in her career and did pose nude for a noted pin-up artist Rolf Armstrong.  That modeling experience might have impressed Vargas.  The girl of the Follies cover is most likely Boots.  The image of Boots posing for Armstrong has also survived.

Boots appeared in a glamorous Hollywood short, with Tyrone Power called “1933 Stars of Tomorrow.”  The premise was basically dress up a dozen starlets from various studios in evening gowns and give them a few corny lines.  A clip of that beauty contest has survived and is on You Tube:

In 1932, Boots was selected as a Western Association of Motion Picture Advertisers (WAMPAS) Baby star.  The WAMPAS Baby Stars was a well respected public relations event, which honored 14 starlets that year (one from each studio in business at the time).  The WAMPAS salute ran from 1922 to 1934 honoring those whom the advertisers felt were on the verge of movie stardom.  The gala coming out party was called the "WAMPAS Frolic."  The 14 were given plenty of media attention.  The program ended after 1934 because the movie studios wanted to promote starlets different from those selected by WAMPAS.  The WAMPAS Class of 1932 included: 
--Lona Andre
--Lilian Bond
--Mary Carlisle, 
--Patricia Ellis,
--Ruth Hall,
--Eleanor Holm
--Evalyn Knapp
--Dorothy Layton
--Boots Mallory
--Toshia Mori
--Ginger Rogers
--Marian Shockley
--Gloria Stuart
--Dorothy Wilson

--Handle with Care, 1932
--Humanity, 1933
--Hello, Sister, 1933
--The Wolf Dog--1933
--Carnival Lady, 1933
--The Big Race, 1934
--Sing Sing Nights, 1934
--Powdersmoke Range, 1935
--Here's Flash Casey, 1938
--Swiss Miss, 1938 (uncredited)


Top: Boots photographed by icon Hollywood photographer George Hurrell;
Middle: Boots with 2nd husband Herbert Marshall (left) and Gary Cooper.
Lower: Posing for pinup artist Rolf Armstrong.

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