Happy 100th Birthday, Mary Carlisle (Hollywood glamor girl of the 30s and 40s)
Mary Carlisle (born February 3, 1912) is a retired American actress and singer. Born in Boston, Massachusetts, she was a star of Hollywood films in the 1930s, having been one of thirteen girls selected as “WAMPAS Baby Stars” in 1932. The archetypal blonde, Mary Carlisle was brought to Hollywood at the age of four by her recently widowed mother. While eating lunch with her mother at the Universal Pictures commissary, Mary was spotted by Carl Laemmle, Jr. and offered a screen test.
Her first screen role was at the age of eight when she played Jackie Coogan’s sweetheart in If I Were King. After that she decided to finish school before launching her film career. Carlisle finally stepped back in front of the cameras in 1930, appearing in a series of Collegian short subjects and Madam Satan, directed by Cecil B. DeMille. She subsequently freelanced in eighteen movies, alternating between supporting and leading roles. She co-starred in three films with Bing Crosby: College Humor, Double or Nothing and Doctor Rhythm.
In 1934, Carlisle was featured opposite Ralph Bellamy and Fay Wray in Once to Every Woman, based on a story by A.J. Cronin. She also starred with Robert Armstrong and Richard Cromwell, for Producers Releasing Corporation, in Baby Face Morgan (1942).
During Carlisle’s first decade in Hollywood, her mother became the second wife of industrialist Henry J. Kaiser, thus making Carlisle Kaiser’s step-daughter. Carlisle married New York socialite James Blakely, a film actor who later became an executive producer at 20th Century-Fox. James Blakely, who wrote an autobiography entitled Wide-Eyed in Babylon in 1974, died on January 30, 2007. The couple had one child.
Carlisle retired from films in 1942. In 1949, she began a second career as the manager of the Elizabeth Arden Salon in Beverly Hills, California. In 2010, she received a Star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. With the death of Gloria Stuart in 2010, Carlisle became the sole surviving “WAMPAS Baby Star” from 1932. Barbara Kent, a WAMPAS Baby Star from 1927, died in 2011.