Mary Carlisle

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Mary Carlisle
Mary Carlisle modern138.jpg
Born (1914-02-03) February 3, 1914 (age 105)
OccupationActress, singer, dancer
Years active1923–1943
Spouse(s)James Blakeley (1942–2007; his death)

Mary Carlisle (born February 3, 1914[1][2]) is a retired American actress, singer, and dancer.

Raised in Boston, Massachusetts, she starred in several Hollywood films in the 1930s, having been one of 15 girls selected as WAMPAS Baby Stars in 1932. Her first major role was in the 1933 film College Humor with Bing Crosby. The two went on to perform together in two additional films, Double or Nothing (1937) and Doctor Rhythm (1938).[1] Carlisle retired from her acting career shortly after her marriage in 1942, with Dead Men Walk (1943) being her final film credit.[1]

Early life

Mary Carlisle was raised in Boston.[3] Born into a religious family, she was educated in a convent in Back Bay, Boston[2] after her family moved to that neighborhood when she was 6 months old.[4]

Some time after her father's death when she was four years old, Carlisle and her mother relocated to Los Angeles.[5]

Hollywood career

Carlisle's uncle, who lived in California, gave her the opportunity to appear in the Jackie Coogan silent movie Long Live the King in 1923. She was uncredited.[3]

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.[5]

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 few 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[4] and appeared briefly in one film. She signed a one-year contract with MGM[2] in 1930 and was used as a back-up dancer.[5]

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.[2] 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.[6]

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.[7] She went on to make two more movies with Crosby: Double or Nothing[5] and Doctor Rhythm.[3] She continued working for different studios, mainly in B-movies as a leading lady. Being an actress whose beauty was considered a favorable trait among the studios, she often dieted to keep her figure.[2]

Marriage and retirement from acting

In 1942, Carlisle married British-born actor James Edward Blakeley (1910–2007), who later became an executive producer at 20th Century-Fox.[8]

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.[9]

Accolades and recognition

On February 8, 1960, she received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, at 6679 Hollywood Boulevard.[10] With the deaths of Dorothy Layton, Gloria Stuart, and Barbara Kent in 2009, 2010, and 2011, respectively, Carlisle became the only surviving WAMPAS Baby Star.[6]


Mary Carlisle, motion silhouette


Year Title Role
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
Hotel Continental Alicia
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
1934 Palooka Anne Howe
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
Kentucky Kernels Gloria
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
Super-Speed Nan Gale
Kind Lady Phyllis
1936 Love in Exile Emily Stewart
Lady Be Careful Billie 'Stonewall' Jackson
1937 Hotel Haywire Phyllis
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
1939 Fighting Thoroughbreds Marian
Inside Information Crystal
Hawaiian Nights Millie
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

See also


  1. ^ a b c "Los Angeles Times Hollywood Star Walk: Mary Carlisle". Los Angeles Times. Archived from the original on March 10, 2016. Retrieved February 15, 2017. Cite uses deprecated parameter |deadurl= (help)
  2. ^ a b c d e "Minute biographies: Mary Carlisle". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, March 20, 1933. Retrieved February 24, 2014. Italic or bold markup not allowed in: |publisher= (help)
  3. ^ a b c "Mary didn't need an agent". The Register-Guard, June 11, 1939. Retrieved February 25, 2014. Italic or bold markup not allowed in: |publisher= (help)
  4. ^ a b Soanes, Wood (February 18, 1937). "Sad-Eyed Comedienne". Oakland Tribune. California, Oakland. p. 75. Archived from the original on August 16, 2016. Retrieved June 28, 2016 – via Cite uses deprecated parameter |deadurl= (help) open access
  5. ^ a b c d "Mary Carlisle sets record! Opposite Bing Crosby second time". Ottawa Citizen, May 29, 1937. Retrieved February 24, 2014. Italic or bold markup not allowed in: |publisher= (help)
  6. ^ a b Wollstein, Hans J. (2000–2001). "The WAMPAS Baby Stars". Archived from the original on November 27, 2016. Retrieved February 15, 2017. Cite uses deprecated parameter |deadurl= (help)
  7. ^ "Eddie Cantor picks Mary Carlisle as lead". Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, July 3, 1933. Retrieved February 24, 2014. Italic or bold markup not allowed in: |publisher= (help)
  8. ^ Benoit, Sharon (January 2007). "Passagess". Editors Guild Magazine. Archived from the original on March 3, 2016. Retrieved July 1, 2016. Cite uses deprecated parameter |deadurl= (help)
  9. ^ Biern, Shawn Patrick (2009). Orphans: A Hollywood Dream Come True. Dorrance Publishing Co. p. 79. ISBN 978-1434901422.
  10. ^ "Mary Carlisle - Inducted to the Walk of Fame on February 8, 1960". Walk of Fame. Archived from the original on October 13, 2016. Retrieved June 16, 2013. Cite uses deprecated parameter |deadurl= (help)

External links