Barbara Jo Allen

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Barbara Jo Allen
Marian Barbara Henshall

(1906-09-02)September 2, 1906
DiedSeptember 14, 1974(1974-09-14) (aged 68)
Other namesVera Vague
Years active1937–1963
Spouse(s)Barton Yarborough
(m. 19??; div. 1931)
Charles H. Crosby

Norman Morrell
(m. 1943)

Barbara Jo Allen[1] (born Marian Barbara Henshall; September 2, 1906 – September 14, 1974) was an American actress. She was also known as Vera Vague, the spinster character she created and portrayed on radio and in films during the 1940s and 1950s. She based the character on a woman she had seen delivering a PTA literature lecture in a confused manner. As Vague, she popularized the catch phrase "You dear boy!"[2]

Early years[edit]

Allen was born on September 2, 1906, in Manhattan, New York, to Charles Thomas Henshall and Grace Esther Selby. Following her mother's death when Allen was 9, she went to live with an aunt and uncle in Los Angeles. She was educated at Los Angeles High School, UCLA, Stanford University, and the Sorbonne.[3] Her acting ability first surfaced in school plays. Concentrating on language at the Sorbonne, she became proficient in French, Spanish, German and Italian.

Film, radio and television[edit]

In 1933, Allen joined the cast of NBC's One Man's Family[4] as Beth Holly, followed by roles on Death Valley Days, I Love a Mystery and other radio series. According to Allen, her Vera Vague character was "sort of a frustrated female, dumb, always ambitious and overzealous… a spouting bureau of misinformation."[citation needed] After Vera was introduced in 1939 on NBC Matinee, she became a regular with Bob Hope beginning in 1941. In the early 1940s, she was a regular on Signal Carnival, a weekly program on NBC-Pacific Red stations.

Allen appeared in at least 60 movies and TV series between 1938 and 1963, often credited as Vera Vague rather than her own name. The character she created was so popular that she eventually adopted the character name as her professional name.[citation needed] From 1943 to 1952, as Vera, she made more than a dozen comedy two-reel short subjects for Columbia Pictures, two of which were nominated for Oscars in the Academy Award for Best Live Action Short Film category.

In 1948, she did less acting and instead opened her own commercial orchid business,[citation needed] while also serving as the Honorary Mayor of Woodland Hills, California. In 1953, as Vera, she hosted her own television series, Follow the Leader, a CBS audience participation show.


She also did voices for animation, especially for the Walt Disney Animation Studios, most notably as the voice of Fauna, the green fairy, in Sleeping Beauty (1959), Goliath II's mother in Goliath II (1960), and the Scullery Maid in The Sword in the Stone (1963), her final film role.

Hollywood Walk of Fame[edit]

As Vera Vague, Allen has two stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, one for motion pictures at 1720 Vine Street and one for radio at 1639 Vine Street. Both were dedicated February 8, 1960.[5]

Personal life[edit]

Allen's first marriage was to actor Barton Yarborough. They had one child together, Joan. In 1946, the couple co-starred in the two-reel comedy short, Hiss and Yell, nominated for an Academy Award as Best Short Subject. Allen married lumberman Charles Hopper Crosby October 19, 1931, in Reno, Nevada.[6]


Allen died September 14, 1974, aged 68, in Santa Barbara, California.[7] She was cremated at Santa Barbara Cemetery on September 17 and her ashes were scattered in the Pacific.[8]



Short Subjects:


  1. ^ "Smart Girl Makes Career of Being Rattlebrained". The Indiana Gazette. June 27, 1942. p. 11. Retrieved August 21, 2015 – via open access
  2. ^ Shreve Jr., Ivan G. Thrilling Days of Yesteryear, February 3, 2008.
  3. ^ "Creates a Frankenstein, Now She's Stuck with It for Life". The Vidette-Messenger. April 4, 1945. p. 5. Retrieved August 21, 2015 – via open access
  4. ^ Grunwald, Edgar A., Ed. (1938). Variety Radio Directory 1938–1939. Variety, Inc. P. 1227
  5. ^ "Vera Vague". Hollywood Walk of Fame. Retrieved August 22, 2015.
  6. ^ "Eastbay Man and Star of Stage Elope". Oakland Tribune. October 20, 1931. p. 20. Retrieved August 21, 2015 – via open access
  7. ^ DeLong, Thomas A. (1996). Radio Stars: An Illustrated Biographical Dictionary of 953 Performers, 1920 through 1960. McFarland & Company, Inc. ISBN 978-0-7864-2834-2. P. 259.
  8. ^ Resting Places: The Burial Sites of More Than 14000 Famous Persons (entry 179) by Scott wilson

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