Claim to Fame
Dr. Rhythm (1938), WAMPAS Baby Star of 1932
Profile Bio Text
She was the standard prototype of the porcelain-pretty collegiate and starry-eyed romantic interest in a host of Depression-era films and although her name may not ring a bell to most, Mary Carlisle enjoyed a fairly solid decade in the cinematic limelight. The Boston-born, blue-eyed blonde was brought to Hollywood in 1916, at age 4, by her mother after her father passed away. The story goes that the attractive 14-year-old and her mother were having lunch at the Universal commissary when she was noticed by producer Carl Laemmle Jr. who immediately gave her a screen test. Her age was a hindering factor, however, and Mary instead completed her high school studies before moving into the acting arena. An uncle connected to MGM helped give the young hopeful her break into the movies as a singer/dancer a few years later.
Mary started out typically as an extra and bit player in such films as Madam Satan (1930), The Great Lover (1931) and in Grand Hotel (1932) in which she played a honeymooner. The glamorous, vibrant beauty`s career was given a build-up as a "Wampas Baby Star" in 1933 and soon she began finding work in films playing stylish, well-mannered young co-eds. Although she performed in a number of lightweight pictures such as Night Court (1932) with Anita Page, Murder in the Private Car (1934) starring Charles Ruggles and It`s in the Air (1935) toplining Jack Benny, she is perhaps best remembered as a breezy co-star to Bing Crosby in three of his earlier, lightweight 30s musicals: College Humor (1933), Double or Nothing (1937) and Dr. Rhythm (1938). In the last picture mentioned she is the lovely focus of his song "My Heart Is Taking Lessons". Her participation in weightier material such as Kind Lady (1935), was often overshadowed by her even weightier co-stars - in this case Basil Rathbone and Aline MacMahon.
Disappointed with the momentum of her career and her inability to extricate herself from the picture-pretty, paragon-of-virtue stereotype, Mary traveled and lived in to London for a time in the late 30s. Following her damsel-in-distress role in the horror opus Dead Men Walk (1943) with George Zucco and Dwight Frye, Mary retired from the screen prompted by her marriage to James Blakeley, a flying supervisor, the year before. The Beverly Hills couple had one son. Her husband, a former actor who also appeared in 30s musicals with Crosby as a dapper second lead (Two for Tonight (1935)), later became an important executive (producer, editor, etc) at Twentieth Century-Fox.
In later years Mary managed an Elizabeth Arden Salon in Beverly Hills. Recently receiving a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, her husband, who wrote an autobiography entitled "Wide-Eyed in Babylon" in 1974, passed away in 2007.
Full Name at Birth
Gwendolyn L. Witter
Has Detailed Data (New)
Mary Carlisle (born February 3, 1912 or February 3, 1914; sources differ) is a retired American actress, singer and dancer. Raised in Boston, Massachusetts, she starred in several B movie-grade Hollywood films in the 1930s, having been one of fifteen girls selected as "WAMPAS Baby Stars" in 1932. She became a centenarian in 2014. She was the only actress to appear as a leading lady in two Bing Crosby films.
Actress, singer, dancer
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