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Jill Dennett was a motion picture actress in Hollywood movies for a decade, beginning in 1932. She appeared in more than twenty films, all of the appearances in uncredited roles. She was an attractive redhead who was also a talented dancer and singer.
Stage to screen
Dennett was the daughter of comedy star Dave Kramer of the Kramer & Boyle act. She had established herself as a favorite on the vaudeville circuit before entering films. In 1931 her eyes were insured by Lloyd's of London for $100,000. After a small part in Union Station (1932), Dennett appeared with her father on stage at the Hillstreet Theater in Los Angeles, California.
Minor film actress
After playing Daisy, the girl of the pavements in Union Station, she was given a contract for two additional films by Warner Bros.. She next depicted an ingenue (stock character) in the The Tinsel Girl (1932), a film directed by Michael Curtiz. This was followed by her portrayal of Tart in Two Seconds (1932). This screen crime drama starred Edward G. Robinson and was directed by Mervyn Leroy.
From the mid-1930s Dennett acted small parts in The Merry Widow (1934), Men In White (1934), One More Spring (1935), The Devil Is A Woman (1935), Dramatic School (1938), Broadway Serenade (1939), Stardust (1940), Manhattan Heartbeat (1940), Street of Memories (1940), and The Cowboy and the Blonde (1941).
Variety show performer
The Million Dollar Theater closed for renovations in the summer of 1934. When it reopened, on August 9, Dennett was part of a musical-comedy stage production. The other entertainment was provided by the screening of the W.C. Fields movie, Old-Fashioned Way (1934). Dennett shared the bill with thirty other players including Frank Gallagher, Bobby Dale, Helen Wright, and Dorothy Castleman. The presentation of Peggy-Ann was enlivened by dancing and singing choruses. Audiences were pleased and the show was repeated four times a day on some days.
A production of Alt Heidelberg was presented at the Shrine Auditorium[where?] in October 1937. Engel portrayed Gretchen in the theatrical production. Others contributing to the musical version of the play were Henry Mowbray, Paul Keast, Milton Tilly, and Manilla Powers. Engel performed at the Orpheum Theater in Los Angeles the same week, in March 1937, that Major Bowes headlined with his All-Girl Revue.
Dennett was linked romantically with Jesse L. Lasky, Jr.. She became engaged to singer Geoffrey Gill in January 1933.
She donated some twenty pounds of her own red hair during a war scare about a year before the outbreak of World War II. Munitions employed the use of some fine human hair. The hair was received by the Max Factor studios. It cost $17 an ounce in twenty-two inch lengths.
- Los Angeles Times, Beauty Joins Father's Act, January 27, 1932, Page 7.
- Los Angeles Times, Jill Dennett Signs, February 8, 1932, Page 7.
- Los Angeles Times, Jill Dennett Engaged, January 27, 1933, Page A7.
- Los Angeles Times, Million Dollar To Reopen With Musical Shows, July 31, 1934, Page 13.
- Los Angeles Times, Student Prince Cast To Include Popular Players, October 25, 1935, Page A17.
- Los Angeles Times, All Girl Review Features Blues, Singing, And Dancing, March 25, 1937, Page 15.
- Washington Post, Price of Hair Boosted by War Scare, October 3, 1938, Page X13.