February 3, 1914
Boston, Massachusetts, U.S.[a]
(1942–2007; his death); 1 child
Mary Carlisle (born Gwendolyn Witter on February 3, 1914) is a retired American actress, singer and dancer. Born 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.
Mary Carlisle was born as Gwendolyn Witter on February 3, 1914 in Back Bay, Boston. Her mother was Leona Ella Witter. Being born into a religious family, she was educated in a convent in Boston. Her father died when she was four years old. Leona Witter later remarried, to industrialist Henry J. Kaiser. Carlisle and her mother then relocated to Los Angeles, where her uncle lived. He gave her the opportunity to appear in the Jackie Coogan vehicle Long Live the King in 1923. She was uncredited.
Carlisle was discovered by studio executive Carl Laemmle, Jr. at the age of 14 when she was eating lunch with her mother at the Universal Studios commissionary. Carlisle , a petite 5 feet tall, with ash blonde hair, dimples and big round blue eyes, was praised for her angelic looks, and Laemmle offered her a screen test. Though she passed the test and started doing extra work at Universal, she was stopped by a welfare officer who noted that she was underaged and had to finish school first.
After completing her education two years later, she headed to the Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer studio for work in movies. The casting director asked if she could dance; when she replied that she could, he arranged for an audition to take place two days later. Carlisle, who had lied about her good dancing abilities, took a one-day basic tap dancing lesson. She signed a one-year contract with MGM in 1930 and was used as a back-up dancer.
In the beginning of her movie career, she had small parts in movies such as Madam Satan and Passion Flower. She also had a role in Grand Hotel in 1932. She gained recognition when she was selected as one of the WAMPAS Baby Stars (young actresses believed to be on their way to stardom) in 1932. Her major acting break came when Paramount Studios loaned her for the movie College Humor, where she played opposite Bing Crosby. The performance was critically acclaimed and she later went on making two more movies with him: Double or Nothing and Doctor Rhythm. She continued working for different studios, mainly in B-movies as a leading lady.
Carlisle married actor James Edward Blakeley (1910-2007) on March 14, 1942, who later became an executive producer at 20th Century-Fox. Carlisle retired from films shortly after getting married. The couple had one child during their nearly 65-year marriage. In her later life, she was in charge of the Elizabeth Arden Salon in Beverly Hills, California.
Carlisle is the model for the heroine, Starshine Hart, in Jacob Appel's novel, The Biology of Luck (2013).
|1923||Long Live The King||Bit role (uncredited)|
|1930||The Girl Said No||Party guest|
|Montana Moon||Party girl|
|Children of Pleasure||Secretary|
|Madam Satan||Little Bo Peep|
|Passion Flower||Blonde party guest|
|Remote Control||Young blonde violinist|
|The Devil's Cabaret (short)||Impy|
|1931||The Great Lover||Blonde autograph seeker|
|1932||This Reckless Age||Cassandra Phelps|
|Grand Hotel||Mrs. Hoffman|
|Night Court||Elizabeth Osgood|
|Ship A Hooey|
|Down to Earth||Jackie Harper|
|Smilin' Through||Young party guest|
|Her Mad Night||Constance 'Connie' Kennedy|
|1933||Men Must Fight||Evelyn|
|College Humor||Barbara Shirrel|
|Ladies Must Love||Sally Lou Cateret|
|Saturday's Millions||Thelma Springer|
|The Sweetheart of Sigma Chi||Vivian|
|East of Fifth Avenue||Edna Howard|
|Should Ladies Behave||Leone Merrick|
|This Side of Heaven||Peggy Turner|
|Once to Every Woman||Doris Andros|
|Murder in the Private Car||Ruth|
|Handy Andy||Janice Yates|
|Million Dollar Ransom||Francesca Shelton|
|That's Gratitude||Dora Maxwell|
|Girl o' My Dreams||Gwen|
|1935||Grand Old Girl||Gerry Killaine|
|The Great Hotel Murder||Olive Temple|
|One Frightened Night||Doris Waverly|
|Champagne for Breakfast||Edie Reach|
|The Old Homestead||Nancy Abbott|
|It's in the Air||Grace Gridley|
|1936||Love in Exile||Emily Stewart|
|Lady Be Careful||Billie 'Stonewall' Jackson|
|Double or Nothing||Vicki Clark|
|Hold 'Em Navy||Judy Hollan|
|1938||Tip-Off Girls||Marjorie Rogers|
|Dr. Rhythm||Judy Marlowe|
|Hunted Men||Jane Harris|
|Touchdown, Army||Toni Denby|
|Illegal Traffic||Carol Butler|
|Say It in French||Phyllis Carrington|
|Beware Spooks!||Betty Lou Winters Gifford|
|Call a Messenger||Marge Hogan|
|Rovin' Tumbleweeds||Mary Ford|
|1940||Dance, Girl, Dance||Sally|
|1941||Rags to Riches||Carol Patrick|
|1942||Torpedo Boat||Jane Townsend|
|Baby Face Morgan||Virginia Clark|
|1943||Dead Men Walk||Gayle Clayton|
- "California, Birth Index, February 3, 1914". Retrieved February 9, 2014.
- "Mary didn't need an agent". Eugene Register-Guard, June 11, 1939. Retrieved February 25, 2014.
- "New York, New York Passenger and Crew Lists, March 16, 1936". Retrieved February 9, 2014.
- "Minute biographies: Mary Carlisle". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, March 20, 1933. Retrieved February 24, 2014.
- "Mary Carlisle sets record! Opposite Bing Crosby second time". Ottawa Citizen, May 29, 1937. Retrieved February 24, 2014.
- "Mary Carlisle". The New York Times. Retrieved February 28, 2014.
- Wollstein, Hans J. (2000–2001). "The WAMPAS Baby Stars". The Old Corral at b-westerns.com.
- "Eddie Cantor picks Mary Carlisle as lead". The Milwaukee Sentinel, July 3, 1933. Retrieved February 24, 2014.
- "Florida, Marriages, March 14, 1942". Retrieved February 28, 2014.
- "Mary Carlisle - Inducted to the Walk of Fame on February 8, 1960". walkoffame. Retrieved June 16, 2013.
- Appel, Jacob. Phoning Home. U of SC Press, 2014
a^ Her birth record indicates Los Angeles as place of birth
- Mary Carlisle at the Internet Movie Database
- Mary Carlisle at the American Film Institute
- Mary Carlisle at the NNDB
- Photographs of Mary Carlisle