|Born||Gwendolyn L. Witter
February 3, 1914
Boston, Massachusetts, U.S.
(1942–2007; his death); 1 child
Mary Carlisle (born 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. She was the only actress to appear as a leading lady in two Bing Crosby films.
Mary Carlisle was born as Gwendolyn L. Witter on February 3, 1914 in Boston, Massachusetts. Her mother was Leona Ella Witter (née Wotton). Born into a religious family, she was educated in a convent in Back Bay, Boston after her family moved to that city when she was 6 months old. Her father died when she was four years old. Carlisle and her mother relocated to Los Angeles when she was around eight years old.
Carlisle was discovered by studio executive Carl Laemmle, Jr. at the age of 14 while she was eating lunch with her mother at the Universal Studios commissionary. Carlisle, at 5 feet tall, with 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 noticed 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 a couple of days later. Carlisle, who had lied about her good dancing abilities, took a one-day basic tap dancing lesson, won the part along with future star Ann Dvorak and appeared briefly in one film. 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, where she played a bride named Mrs. Hoffman. 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 to star in the 1933 musical comedy College Humor alongside Bing Crosby. The performance was critically acclaimed and catapulted her into a leading actress. She went on to make two more movies with Crosby: Double or Nothing and Doctor Rhythm. She continued working for different studios, mainly in B-movies as a leading lady. Being an actress whose beauty was considered a favourable trait among the studios, she used to diet in order to keep her figure.
Marriage & retirement from acting
On March 14, 1942, Carlisle married British-born actor James Edward Blakeley (1910–2007), who later became an executive producer at 20th Century-Fox. She 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|
|Now's the Time|
|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|
|That Navy Spirit||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|
- "Mary didn't need an agent". The Register-Guard, June 11, 1939. Retrieved February 25, 2014.
- "Minute biographies: Mary Carlisle". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, March 20, 1933. Retrieved February 24, 2014.
- Soanes, Wood (February 18, 1937). "Sad-Eyed Comedienne". Oakland Tribune. California, Oakland. p. 75. Retrieved June 28, 2016 – via Newspapers.com.
- "Mary Carlisle sets record! Opposite Bing Crosby second time". Ottawa Citizen, May 29, 1937. Retrieved February 24, 2014.
- Wollstein, Hans J. (2000–2001). "The WAMPAS Baby Stars". The Old Corral at b-westerns.com.
- "Eddie Cantor picks Mary Carlisle as lead". Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, July 3, 1933. Retrieved February 24, 2014.
- Benoit, Sharon (January 2007). "Passagess". Editors Guild Magazine. Retrieved July 1, 2016.
- Biern, Shawn Patrick (2009). Orphans: A Hollywood Dream Come True. Dorrance Publishing Co. p. 79. ISBN 978-1434901422.
- "Mary Carlisle - Inducted to the Walk of Fame on February 8, 1960". Walk of Fame. Retrieved June 16, 2013.
- Appel, Jacob. Phoning Home. U of SC Press, 2014