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Thread: Lois Collier

  1. #1
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    Smile Lois Collier


    With Fred Brady in 'The Cat Creeps'

    Pert and pretty Lois Collier came to Universal after a stint with Republic Pictures and extensive radio work. Her beauty and talent would be showcased in the studio’s films for the next four years. Collier was born in Sally, South Carolina on March 31, 1919, and made her way to Hollywood through a contest she entered while in school. Upon her arrival, she appeared in minor parts in few pictures under the name Madelyn Earle, an abbreviated version of her real name, Madelyn Earle Jones.

    After signing the Republic contract, she achieved success in the popular “3 Mesquiteers” westerns being produced by the studio. Collier appeared in seven of the titles, more than any other leading lady in the long running series.

    In 1943, the appealing actress signed on with Universal, hoping for parts in larger productions. Instead, she wound up primarily appearing in programmers such as “Get Going” with Robert Paige and “She’s for Me” with Grace McDonald, both in 1943. However, the following year she would attain roles in some of the studio’s more prestigious releases, even as she continued to appear in featured roles in more modest programmers.

    She held the second female lead in what is considered the best of the Maria Montez adventure films, “Cobra Woman.” She also joined Loretta Young, Geraldine Fitzgerald, Anne Gwynne and Evelyn Ankers in the wartime drama “Ladie’s Courageous.” The Walter Wanger production told the story of the Women’s Auxiliary Ferrying Squadrons of the Second World War.

    Collier also made a brief unbilled appearance in the musical extravaganza “Follow the Boys.” The film featured an endless array of talented performers, including Orson Wells, George Raft and Sophie Tucker.

    She then joined her “Ladies Courageous” co-stars Gwynne and Ankers in the Inner Sanctum thriller “Weird Woman.” Collier portrayed a young college student smitten with sociology professor Lon Chaney, Jr. Her jealous boyfriend, influenced by a venomous Ankers, makes an attempt on the schoolmaster’s life, only to wind up killed himself. The story was based on the Fritz Leiber novel Conjure Wife, which was later remade as “Burn, Witch, Burn” with Janet Blair in 1962.

    Collier’s next horror film assignment was “Jungle Woman,” the sequel to the 1943 thriller “Captive Wild Woman.” Others in the cast included Ankers, Acquanetta, J. Carrol Naish and Milburn Stone. Although not as highly billed as her contemporaries, the young starlet acquitted herself quite well in what amounted to the female lead in the production. As the daughter of the well-meaning Dr. Fletcher (Naish), it is she who is placed in peril during the film’s climax.

    By 1945, Ankers and Gwynne, Universal’s two most prolific leading ladies of the genre, had departed the studio. Collier would be called upon to fill the void created by their absence. She found herself cast opposite Noah Beery, Jr. and John Litel in the musical mystery “The Crimson Canary.” The plot concerned a group of jazz musicians that are the chief suspects in the murder of a nightclub singer.

    Besides her work in horror and mystery features, Collier co-starred in the Abbott and Costello comedy classic “The Naughty Nineties” that same year. The film has the distinction of showcasing the boys popular “Who’s on First” routine in its entirety. They had previously used an abbreviated version of it in their initial film, “One Night in the Tropics” in 1940. The cast also featured Alan Curtis and Joe Sawyer. Curtis had appeared in Universal’s “The Invisible Man’s Revenge” in 1944, and was at one time married to actress Ilona Massey. Sawyer, one of Hollywood’s most dependable character actors, is best remembered by horror and science fiction fans for his work in the 1953 Universal-International triumph “It Came from Outer Space.” The Canadian born actor retired from the screen shortly after his hit television show “The Adventures of Rin Tin Tin” left the television airwaves in 1959, and eventually died from cancer in 1982.

    Also that year, Collier appeared alongside Kirby Grant and Edward Norris in the musical comedy “Penthouse Rhythm.” Grant, best remembered today as television’s “Sky King,” was actually a gifted musician and singer. He began his career in the entertainment industry as a bandleader, and many of his early Universal credits were musicals.

    Another teaming with Norris was to follow, that being the thirteen-chapter serial “Jungle Queen.” It also featured Eddie Quillan, Douglass Dumbrille, Ruth Roman and Tala Birell. The plot dealt with the Nazi’s attempt to enlist the aid of an African tribe to fight the Allies. Collier and her cohorts soon put an end to that evil plan.

    Collier began 1946 by appearing in yet another mystery, this one entitled “Girl on the Spot.” William “One Shot” Beaudine served as director, and the cast included Jess Barker, George Dolenz and western sidekick Fuzzy Knight.

    She then found herself menaced by a homicidal fiend in “The Cat Creeps.” Hoping to solve a twenty-year old murder mystery, a group of assorted characters show up at a spooky old mansion located on a desolate island. As any viewer would know, more murders are bound to occur. Paul Kelly, Fred Brady, Rose Hobart and Dumbrille co-starred in the film, which was directed by Erle C. Kenton.

    She next co-starred with Don Porter in the western, “Wild Beauty.” Universal horror enthusiasts remember him as the able leading man in two of the studio’s chillers, “Night Monster” in 1942 and “She Wolf of London” in 1946. Directed by Wallace Fox, the cast also featured such stalwarts as George Cleveland and Jacqueline de Wit.

    The Technicolor adventure “Slave Girl” with Yvonne De Carlo, released in 1947, was to be her last Universal film. Also starring George Brent, Brod Crawford and Andy Devine, it was typical of the studio’s new standards. A mid 1946 merger with International Pictures had brought an end to the more standardized programmers of the previous ownership. From that point forward the production of “B” films came to an end, and all subsequent projects were to be more upscale faire.

    After leaving Universal-International, Collier continued her screen career into the 1950’s. Among her more memorable credits of the period was the Marx Brother’s comedy “A Night in Casablanca.” Released in 1946, it also featured Charles Drake and Sig Ruman. While not on par with Graucho, Chico and Harpo’s laugh fests of the previous decade, it perhaps ranks as their finest work of the 1940’s. Collier also returned to Republic for the 1950 cliffhanger “Flying Disc Man from Mars,” with Walter Reed and James Craven. The plot dealt with a Martian attempt to conquer the world. In a typical bit of economizing, the wardrobe worn by Gregory Gay, who portrayed the evil alien Mota, matched that worn by Roy Barcroft in the earlier serial “The Purple Monster Strikes.” Needless to say, the latter effort utilized an excessive amount of stock footage. As with other chapterplays, Republic edited the effort into a feature, and released it under the title “Missile Monsters” in 1958.

    Despite her successful film career, the role Collier would come to be most identified with was to come in 1951. That year, she was signed for the role of Mary Wesley in the hit television series “Boston Blackie,” which also starred Kent Taylor. The program aired until 1953. A few other television guest appearances in the mid 1950’s followed, until she retired completely before the end of the decade.

    After residing in Beverly Hills for several years, Collier eventually moved to the Motion Picture Home in Woodland Hills, California. Suffering from Alzheimer’s, she passed away at age 80 on October 27, 1999. Her charm and beauty continues to remain fondly remembered by fans of the era.

  2. #2
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    Jun 2008
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    She was lovely...

  3. #3
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    May 2008
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    Never heard of her... byt she seems to have been very succesful. And she had a long and happy life too.. so uncommon for actresses of her time
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    Love is the answer - and you know that for sure.

  4. #4
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    She had a cult following, like many Horror ladies. One of her co-stars was I believe Maria Montez - difficult to upstage I bet!

  5. #5
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    Dec 2007
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    Interesting

    ""It's a mop with a tongue! Can you imagine the dingleberries?" - Mammy


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