Thursday, February 25, 2010

Mae West: Helen Jerome Eddy

An actress often cast as an aristocrat or a woman from a wealthy, distinguished family was featured with MAE WEST in the motion picture "Klondike Annie" [1936].
• • Helen Jerome Eddy, who portrayed Sister Annie Alden, was (like Mae) a native New Yorker. Born in Manhattan during the month of February — — on 25 February 1897 — — she was raised on the West Coast and entered the film trade while studying at Berkeley. In her youth, Eddy had performed in productions staged at the Pasadena Playhouse.
• • The memorable scene that introduces her is when shady lady Rose Carlton [Mae West] is escaping on the ship to Seattle and spots the frail missionary Annie Alden [Helen Jerome Eddy], who will conveniently die en route to Alaska.
• • Helen Jerome Eddy had a rather patrician demeanor that enabled the five-foot-seven performer to portray young women of untold wealth throughout the silent era, first at Vitagraph and later on at several major film outfits. According to Hal Erickson: A character actress in the talkie era, Eddy essayed such roles as the beneficent society matron in Our Gang's first talking short "Small Talk" (1929) and the kindly, terminally ill missionary whom Mae West impersonates in "Klondike Annie" (1936). Helen Jerome Eddy retired in 1940 — — ever afterward remaining available for interviews concerning Hollywood's "Golden" era.
• • On 27 January 1990, Helen Jerome Eddy died of heart failure in Alhambra, California. She was 92.
• • "Klondike Annie" was released on 21 February 1936.
• • In his "All Movie Guide," Paul Brenner observed: Mae West butts heads with Victor McLaglen [1886 — 1959] in Raoul Walsh's "Klondike Annie." But the real victor was the Legion of Decency, whose censorship strictures transformed a saucy and spicy gumbo into something closer to chicken noodle soup. Mae West plays Rose Carlton, the kept woman of Chan Lo (Harold Huber), who takes her from walking the streets to pacing the floors of her high rent apartment. Rose ends up killing Chan and beats it from San Francisco to the frozen north. She boards a ship where burly sea captain Bull Brackett (Victor McLaglen) takes a shine to her. When he finds out she killed Chan, he blackmails her into coming up and seeing him sometime. Boarding the ship in Seattle is missionary Annie Alden (Helen Jerome Eddy), who dies on the way to Alaska. Rose assumes Annie's identity and, upon arrival in Alaska proceeds to preach the Good Book, saving sinners by unorthodox methods. Mountie Jack Forrest (Philip Reed) arrives in town searching for Chan's murderer and he falls in love with Rose, unaware that the woman he loves is the killer he seeks.

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• • Photo: • • Mae West's co-star • • Helen Jerome Eddy • •
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