Elyse Knox Profile

Elyse Knox
Elyse Knox
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(Elsie M. Kornbrath)
14 December 17 is born in Hartford, Connecticut, to Austrian immigrants Frederic and Hermine Sophie Kornbrath, nee Mük. Her older brother Frederic will become a high-ranking official at Lockheed Aircraft Company. Her father’s brother, Rudolph Jon Kornbrath, is a renowned engraver, working for Colt and Winchester and private clients.
30 as Elsie M. Kornbrath, she lives with her family in Hartford, Connecticut
? moves with her family to New York
? attends art school
? earns $15 a week as a commercial artist
? starts modeling
? earns $200 a week as a John Powers model
? catches the attention of 20th Century-Fox when she models as a bride in a Vivian Donner fashion newsreel
ca. 39 changes her name from Elsie Kornbrath to Elyse Knox because “marquees can’t handle the space taken by number of letters in Kornbrath.” Her brother and mother also change their surname.
March 40 columnist Jimmie Fiedler reports her being groomed for stardom by 20th Century-Fox
ca. 40 meets Paul Hesse while posing for promotional color portraits at his photography studio
1 January 41 meets Tom Harmon, All-American halfback for Michigan in 1939-40, while attending an East-West College All-Star game
May 41 columnist Jimmie Fiedler reports: “commercial photographer Paul Hesse and modeluscious Elyse Knox are engaged...”
July 41 columnist Ken Morgan tells: “George Montgomery is becoming constant with Elyse Knox – she’s even around when he is testing for a new picture...” She and Montgomery share their interest and talent in art and painting.
28 August 41 hits the front page with “Honeymoon in Hawaii is next big play contemplated by Tom Harmon, former Michigan grid star, if Elyse Knox of Hollywood says ‘yes.’ Indications were that she would as she gave Harmon big hug on arriving in Chicago to see him play in college all-star game.”
Harmon admits a romance with her. “This weekend I’m going to ask her to marry me.”
Late September 41 columnist Dorothy Kilgallen reveals: “Tommy Harmon is back with his true love, Janet Blair, now that publicity stills with Elyse Knox have broken in the fan mags.”
October 41 Ken Morgan tells: “Paul Hesse and Elyse Knox are back together again following her publicity romance with footballer Tommy Harmon...”
Early November 41 Harmon flies to Los Angeles immediately after passing his tests for the Army Air Corps in Detroit
November 41 columnist Louella Parsons pens: “Tommy Harmon, former All-American, didn’t come to Hollywood just to get Elyse Knox to marry him. He talked with Columbia about doing a movie before he goes into the Army Air Corps in February.”
January 42 the press reports rumors “that Elyse Knox and Paul Hesse, local photographer, are pricing wedding rings”
17 February 42 announces that she will marry Hesse next Saturday in San Diego
20 February 42 Parsons announces: “Elyse Knox and Paul Hesse wed Saturday night at the Presbyterian Church in Coronado. Jinx Falkenberg and her family, the Chet Laucks, Hedy Lamarr and George Montgomery will motor down for the ceremony.”
21 February 42 marries Paul August Hesse. He’s 46; she’s 24. The New York-born Hesse is one of the most renowned Hollywood color photographers with a very individual hyper realistic style.
July 42 Kilgallen reports: “Elyse Knox, a Hollywood starlet, has been selected Miss Unconscious of 1942. I don’t know why either...”
25 March 43 sues Hesse for divorce in Los Angeles charging cruelty. The press gives his age as 46 and hers as 25.
March 43 Kilgallen spreads the word: “when Elyse Knox’s divorce from photographer Paul Hesse is final, friends believe she’ll waltz down the aisle with a soldier boy she met on a USO camp tour.”
26 March 43 wins a divorce from Hesse. Charging cruelty, Elyse claimed that during their family squabbles “Mister Hesse turned on the radio loud so neighbors couldn’t hear us.”
Early April 43 columnist Walter Winchell reports: “When Paul Hesse, the Hollywood color photographer, lost his wife, Elyse Knox, via divorce – he also lost his ace retoucher...”
April 43 Lieut. Tom Harmon escapes serious injury when parachuting from his Army bomber over Dutch Guiana. He wanders through the jungle for four days before he finds natives who bring him back to civilization in Paramaribo. Asked whether Elyse Knox should be called, he says: “Yes, tell Elyse I am safe and well.”
May 43 Winchell returns to her: “Elyse Knox, melting from H’wood photogger Paul Hesse, will be among the first to welcome home Lt. Tommy Harmon – her next groom?”
October 43 Harmon is shot down over Southeast Asia by a Japanese Zero plane and is reported missing for 32 days. The natives save him from the Japanese by hiding his badly burned body in their canoes, covering his skin with wet palm leaves as they paddle him out to the U.S.-held area.
November 43 columnist Hedda Hopper imparts: “Elyse Knox is buying new furniture. Her friends can’t figure out whether she has Private John Payne or Lieutenant Tom Harmon on her mind. Her ex-husband, Paul Hesse, hopes he’ll be the lucky one again.”
January 44 asked about his rumored engagement to Elyse, Harmon replies that “the newspapers tell more than I know myself,” but adds: “I haven’t seen ‘Butch’ in two years. I’ve had high hopes of seeing her but she’s down in bed with 103 degrees of fever and is a pretty sick girl. She’s written me constantly.”
Early February 44 for two weeks, she and her mother, Mina Knox, are guests at the Harmons’ home in Ann Arbor, Michigan. She and Harmon insist “they were not engaged and had no immediate betrothal plans”
March 44 the press reports from Hollywood: “Here on a 10-day furlough, Lt. Tom Harmon of the Army Air Forces is wearing two decorations – the Silver Star from the War Department and a locket from film actress Elyse Knox.”
May 44 poses with a 6-month-old Boxer pup which Harmon gave her promoting “Be Kind to Animals Week”
ca. June 44 gets an annulment of her marriage to Hesse from the Los Angeles archdiocese and is received into the Catholic Church. Hesse will retire in 1963 and die in 1973 at age 77 in Los Angeles.
21 July 44 Louis A. Harmon announces that his son will marry Elyse at the St. Mary Student Parish, Ann Arbor, on Saturday, August 26
26 August 44 marries Thomas Dudley "Tom" Harmon, who is on a 10-day leave, at St. Mary Student Parish on the campus of the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Michigan. He’s 24; she’s 26. Her wedding dress is made from Harmon’s parachute that he used in China. It is trimmed in the cord of the chute, which also decorates both the veil and the bride’s high-heeled satin shoes. The bullet holes are made into decorative eyelets. Mrs. Bertram Jensen, Harmon’s sister, is matron of honor. Bridesmaids include Kay Considine and Rosemary Flynn.
20 October 44 is on the cover of Yank, the Army Weekly
26 December 44 reveals to the press that she expects a baby in July
25 June 45 her daughter Sharon Kristin is born. She will become an actress.
13 August 45 her husband is discharged at the Fort MacArthur, California, separation center and leaves immediately for the east to join her and their 6-week-old daughter, Sharon
March 46 attends Marguerite Chapman’s birthday party with husband Tom Harmon. Actresses Jeff Donnell and Evelyn Keyes also attend.
December 46 the press informs: “Rosemary Lane was back with Buddy Westmore at Tom Harmon’s party for Elyse Knox...”
16 May 47 her daughter Sharon is injured in a 5-foot fall from the top of a slide in the backyard of the Harmons’ Hollywood home
June 47 columnist Harrison Carroll updates: “Sorry to say the stork date has been cancelled for Elyse Knox and Tommy Harmon...”
48 her daughter Kelly Jean is born. She will become an actress.
October 49 columnist Erskine Johnson states: “Elyse Knox is bowing out of the Ann Howe role in the Joe Palooka series at her own request. Monogram will stage a nation-wide ‘For Blondes Only’ contest to find a replacement...”
2 September 51 her son, Thomas Mark, is born in Burbank, California. He will become an actor.
August 54 New York columnist Lee Mortimer dashes off: “Dept. of Disharmony: have the Tommy Harmons (she’s Elyse Knox) taken the ten count and why?...”
October 54 columnist Erskine Johnson lets it be known: “TV’s Tom Harmon and ex-star Elyse Knox expect a halfback in February...”
57 her father dies at age 66
24 December 62 she and her husband announce that their daughter Kristin will marry Ricky Nelson, star of TV’s “The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet” in spring. Nelson is 22; Kristin is 18. Nelson will divorce her in 1983 and die in a plane crash in 1985.
7 February 63 her brother, Fred, dies at age 49 of massive heart failure at his desk at Lockheed Corporation
December 68 the press claims she never permitted herself to be kissed on celluloid
31 May 69 her daughter Kelly marries John Z. DeLorean, General Motors Corp. vice president, in a private candlelit ceremony at the Bel-Air Country Club in West Los Angeles. He’s 44; she’s 20. DeLorean will divorce her in 1972 to marry actress Cristina Ferrare and die in 2005.
November 76 takes up commercial painting with a one-woman show at the Staircase Gallery
21 March 87 her son, Mark, marries fellow TV actress Pamela “Pam” Dawber. Both are 35.
15 March 90 becomes the widow of Harmon, who dies, age 70, at 6:00 p.m. of cardiac arrest. After playing 18 holes of golf at the Bel-Air Country Club in Los Angeles, he goes to a travel agency to buy tickets for a trip to Hawaii for himself and Elyse. While there, he feels dizzy and tells the travel agent that he is going to faint. An ambulance is called and he is pronounced dead at the hospital.
14 January 12 suffers a major stroke
16 February 12 dies, age 94, at 4:20 p.m. of a heart attack. In addition to her three children, she is survived by nine grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.
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