Barbara Pepper Profile

Barbara Pepper
Barbara Pepper
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(Marion Pepper)
31 May 15 is born in New York City. She likes to say that she was destined for show business because she was born on Times Square in a room at the Astor Hotel, where her father is the manager.
31-32 her mind is already set for a showbiz career, against her parents’ wishes. Changing her first name to Barbara, the blue-eyed blonde nabs a showgirl spot in the Ziegfeld Follies. She meets fellow Follies showgirl Lucille Ball, and the two become lifelong friends.
Early 30s is a member of the cast in George White’s Scandals on Broadway
21 January 31 one of America’s great mysteries, why millionaires fall for showgirls, finally has been solved. Here are some answers, gathered from former New York showgirls now appearing in Bottoms Up at the Fox studio. “A millionaire marries a showgirl because he can see what he’s getting,” declares Mary Lange. “Millionaires marry showgirls because showgirls are smarter than most millionaires,” adds Vivian Keefer. “Millionaires like to have their money’s worth, and showgirls know how to make them think they’re getting it,” says Barbara Pepper.
33 does radio and film work. She and friend Lucille Ball are Goldwyn Girls in Eddie Cantor’s Roman Scandals.
28 August 33 it’s a tough life for Eddie Cantor, it seems. He is photographed skipping around the studio with a bevy of beauties who are appearing in his newest picture, Roman Scandals. The girls are Vivian Keefer, Mary Lange, Barbara Pepper, Katherine Mauk, Lucille Ball, Dolores Casey, Rosalie Fromson and Theo Phave.
16 January 34 when Roman Scandals gets to the Roxie in the near future, those who know their advertisements may recognize seven faces in the ranks of the hundred chorines in support of Eddie Cantor. The special seven were recruited by Samuel Goldwyn for purposes of publicity, such as these are: Katherine Mauk, whose dark eyes inspired a famous Wrigley’s poster; Ruth Stovall, whose face illustrates Pond’s cold cream and Palmolive soap; Mary Lang, whose dark beauty is seen in color advertising cigarettes; Vivian Keefer, known to every famous photographer and commercial artist as the inspiration for the Listerine ads; Barbara Pepper, the “Fisher Body Girl’; Theo Phave whose beautiful limbs are frequently models for illustrations of hosiery and footwear; and Lucille Ball, whose dark smile lights up ads for Camels.
17 August 35 contracts of three budding screen stars were approved by Superior Judge McComb today. They were Barbara Pepper, 20, and Ann Rutherford and Valeria Hobson, both 17.
10 October 35 she owns Hollywood’s oddest piece of jewelry. It’s a charm bracelet to which are attached 50 tiny gold novelties. Eddie Cantor gave her a gold rabbit’s foot, and Rudy Vallee, a little gold megaphone. But the donors of a police badge, telephone, washboard, elephant, poodle dog, canoe, gun, knife, auto, fish pole, and roller skate are her own pet secret.
19 October 35 Harrison Carroll notes that Monroe Owsley has been squiring Barbara Pepper (Harry Richman likes her, too) to watch Kirby and De Gage’s dancing at the Roosevelt Blossom Room
8 June 36 comedians Bert Wheeler and Robert Woolsey give her a birthday party. She starred with them in Mummy’s Boys
8 July 36 with the bicycling craze being revived, she, a confirmed cyclist, is photographed wearing a navy flannel culotte skirt, white shirt and a flannel “weskit” of navy, flame and white in a small plaid
9 July 36 if you know Barbara Pepper, be sure and get her to show you her version of “the policeman’s bump”
16 July 36 you can hear her heart fluttering clear across the set, for Harry Richman is back in town
30 July 36 her quick-witted action is credited with saving the life of Fred Radke of Tacoma, Washington. He was stricken with a heart attack while walking in front of her Hollywood home. Sensing his ailment, she called a physician and then administered first aid herself. The physician said Radke was dying at the time, but that the prompt action of Miss Pepper undoubtedly saved his life.
4 August 36 grid greats of 1936, employed by the movies to take featured parts in a coming football production, were welcomed with open arms in Hollywood when they arrived in that cinema city. One of the players, Erwin “King Kong” Klein, former New York university ace, found himself in her arms when he stepped off the train.
13 August 36 even Parkyakarkus, the comedian, is getting that thoughtful look since he began squiring the beautiful Barbara Pepper
17 August 36 flyer Eddie Belandi threw a party for her and Harry Richman at the Vendome the other noon
20 August 36 is photographed for newspapers for an exercise article. A daily walk is included in her exercises for beauty and health.
22 August 36 Harry Richman is off in his new plane, but she won’t be lonesome, for Parkyakarkus is sending her flowers and telegrams by the dozens
27 August 36 if our eyes don’t deceive us, that was Mack Gray who escorted Lucille Ball and her to greet dancers Tony and Renee de Marco at the Cocoanut Grove. Other celebs who attended were Gail Patrick with John King, Margaret Sullavan with William Wyler, Ann Sothern with Roger Pryor, Binnie Barnes with Don Alvarado, Velez and Yolanda, Rosalind Marquis with Harry Jacobson, the Mervyn LeRoys, and many others.
15 September 36 pending Harry Richman’s return, she consoles herself by dining at the Vendome with Eddie Belandi, the flyer
19 September 36 in case Harry Richman is interested, she sat up all night listening to the radio reports about his flight from England to the Americas. She didn’t go to bed until the news came that the plane had landed safely.
21 September 36 she shares one of her beauty secrets with the public. She uses a mask of strained honey once a week. She cleanses her skin carefully, applies the honey from the base of her throat upward to her hairline, then lies down to rest for 20 minutes. Afterward, she removes the mask with lukewarm water, pats on a softening cream, and goes to bed.
26 September 36 away from the Kliegs, she and Anita Colby are photographed wearing slacks. Informal but fetching togs, eh, what?
5 October 36 seeing as Anne Shirley is out of town, Owen Davis, Jr., took her to Sebastian’s Cotton Club the other night
7 October 36 contrary to the general opinion of the movie colony, Hollywood newspaper photographers believe blondes will dominate the pictures of the near future. They have listed 7 blondes among the 10 younger actresses most likely to succeed on the screen. For their 1936 awards, the group chooses her, Cecilia Parker, June Travis, Helen Wood, Joan Perry, Mary Frances Gifford, Janice Jarratt, and Kay Hughes. Formal announcement will be made tonight at the “flashlighters ball,” staged by the Hollywood Press Photographers’ Association. The Association is successor to the Wampas, film publicity group which formerly nominated 10 “Wampas Baby Stars” each year. Nomination, in virtually every case, brought quick opportunities in the major studios. Girls named each year by the photographers will be known as “flashlighters’ starlets” At the banquet tonight, they will be presented with small candid cameras, engraved with this title. The major portion of the film colony has made reservations.
31 October 36 a funny situation has come up at RKO. Her dad, Dave Pepper, was visiting her on the set of Wanted: Jane Turner. Director Edward Kelly saw him as just the type for a detective in the picture and offered him the job. Pepper was a hotel man in the East, but has done a bit of acting recently at Hal Roach. He accepted the job offer, and now he has to trail his daughter in the picture and help put her through a screen third degree.
Mid-Thirties her name is linked with young millionaire, sportsman-aviator and motion picture producer Howard Hughes
27 December 36 required to throw her out a door in a movie scene, Victor McLaglen refused because he believed it would make him appear too brutal. However, he consented when shown how it could be done without hurting the diminutive star.
21 January 37 her reception at Republic when she arrives to film Portia on Trial is unusually enthusiastic. There is a sentimental reason back of this enthusiasm, for she was the very first girl signed on a stock contract by Republic when that studio was organized some two years ago. She is glad to be back to what she considers her “home lot,” and she is amazed at the changes that had taken place in her absence—new sound stages and other buildings which recorded the phenomenal growth of the comparatively new organization.
21 March 37 is photographed for newspapers sporting a new coiffure. Her shiny, healthy hair is the result of brushing and excellent care.
23 March 37 is off to New York on vacation
26 March 37 won’t tell who sent her the corsage of four orchids when she entrained the other day
1 April 37 vacationing in New York, she yields to the urging of Harry Richman, nightclub entertainer and her current flame, and goes to Miami, where Richman is playing. Insiders believe anything may happen, including matrimony.
16 June 37 her spring flower garden is playing her tricks. Unknown to her, Paul Guilfoyle sprinkled turnip seeds in her zinnias. She can’t imagine how such queer-shaped zinnias came into being.
2 August 37 a particularly thorough job of relaxing is observed on the set of RKO’s Forty Naughty Girls. The girls, clad in no more spangles than the Hays Office allows, are sitting in a big circle playing a game. Also in the circle are Zasu Pitts, Barbara Pepper, Director Eddie Cline (who used to be a Keystone Kop), and Benny Rubin, who invented the game. The game goes like this: In unison, all the players slap their knees, clap their hands, and snap their fingers. At the instant of snapping, one player gives the first name of a movie actor or actress, and the following player has to respond with the last name on the next snap. Thus—slap, clap, snap, Greta; slap, clap, snap, Garbo; slap, clap, snap, Ginger; slap, clap, snap, Rogers. Sounds easy, but the tempo is rapid, the rhythm hypnotic. When a player misses, he has to toss a penny into the ring and retire from competition. Last person in the contest gets the pot. Miss Pitts usually wins.
15 August 37 looking for her? Chances are she’s out watching midget auto races with Tommy Lee.
18 August 37 models a toast-colored chiffon evening dress. It is made with a full skirt and Grecian-like top. A cluster of nasturtiums in shades of flame and brown add color to one shoulder.
24 August 37 she and her dashing father, David Pepper, the only father-daughter acting team in Hollywood, are seen in The Outcasts of Poker Flats
3 September 37 is photographed for newspapers studying her script over a breakfast of Shredded Wheat and peaches. A recipe for Shredded Wheat Betty follows.
Late 30s, 40s at RKO, Maria Ouspenskaya takes a liking to her and coaches her. She will later say of Ouspenskaya: “I couldn’t do character parts today if it hadn’t been for Maria’s help.”
21 October 37 she meets rough-hand problems by massaging cream into her “paws” several times a week and then wears cotton gloves to bed
7 December 37 Seen: Barbara Pepper and Pinky Tomlin, everywhere
21 December 37 her real heart trouble is Harry Richman
18 April 38 the Barbara Pepper-Craig Reynolds twosome continues. They were at Travaglini’s together. Meanwhile, Craig’s ex-heart, Gertrude Niesen, may linger in London to do a show for Cochrane.
11 January 39 the new Café Marcel Lamaze gets off to a fine start. Opening night is packed with celebs. She attends with handsome Dr. Rene Baron.
7 November 39 the Hays office intervened to prevent George Raft from yanking her zipper. The incident takes place when he refuses to dance with her in Invisible Stripes. In revenge, he yanks her zipper. As revamped, the spilled liquor remains in the scene, but, instead of the zipper episode, Humphrey Bogart, Raft’s pal, does the more polite thing—he merely pours a highball on her head.
11 November 39 director Nick Grinde is glimpsed with her at the nightspots
24 December 39 Peter Lorre is currently Barbara Pepper’s salt
10 March 40 she and Wendy Barrie transform from blond to brunet for The Saint Takes Over
31 March 40 her most embarrassing moment occurred during her finishing school days when she blew up her lines in her first school play. Since that time she has established a reputation for being letter-perfect in her lines. “One Take Pepper” they call her on the Republic lot because she can always be counted on to turn in a flawless performance on the very first take.
14 January 41 travels to Lincoln, Nebraska, for the world premiere of Cheers For Miss Bishop. The book of the same name was written by Nebraska resident Bess Streeter Aldrich. Classes are suspended at the University of Nebraska, which provided the setting for part of the story. Background shots were taken at the University last fall. She and actresses Lois Ranson and Mary Anderson are photographed at the train station. Also in the Hollywood entourage are William Gargan, Neil Hamilton, Nebraska-native Wayne Morris, Martha O’Driscoll, Mr. and Mrs. William Farnum, Albert Dekker, and Richard A. Rowland.
a formal dinner for 400 is held at the Cornhusker. Humorist Irvin S. Cobb serves as master of ceremonies. From the ballroom, the stars are sent in motorcycle-escorted cars to the Stuart Theater for the premiere. Throngs of several hundred stand in a chilly drizzle to await the arrival of the film luminaries, and they are not disappointed because the stars put on a fine show from the platform outside the theater.
6 April 41 has a record of 48 murders, 22 imprisonments, and 18 broken homes—in the movies
21 April 41 James Marratta, Boston financial advisor, planed to Hollywood to coo with her
15 May 41 she and Anatole Litvak stomp out hot rhythms together at La Conga
5 June 41 receives a cablegram that her uncle, Robert Pepper, has been killed in a recent air raid over Swansea Wales. Pepper, a retired merchant, was on air raid duty.
31 October 41 that humidity interrupting the frigid temperatures is merely the blaze caused by June Preisser, the dancer, and Gar Wood, Jr. He’s traveling with the “Sweater Girl” tour (Peggy Moran, June, Cecilia Parker, Barbara Pepper, and Mary Healy).
6 April 42 Louella Parsons reports that, “Barbara Pepper, who got so fat she literally ate her way out of pictures, has dieted and looks so wonderful she is talking contract at Columbia.”
2 February 43 Craig (in-the-marines) Reynolds will make his next furlough memorable by signing up to “take future orders” from actress Barbara Pepper
March 43 actor Craig Reynolds is sent to a San Diego, California, hospital after serving in Iceland and later with the first troops at Guadalcanal
20 April 43 takes out a marriage license to marry actor Craig Reynolds. They will have two sons, Dennis and John.
24 April 43 marries actor Craig Reynolds in Los Angeles. It is a simple ceremony. Actress Evelyn Venable is matron of honor, and her husband, cameraman Hal Mohr, is best man. It is her first marriage and his second.
16-23 January 44 she and her husband are in the cast of a modern version of Lady Chatterly’s Lover, based on D. H. Lawrence’s famous novel, a three-act comedy-drama at the Geary Theater in San Francisco. Besides her, Jack Linder and William B. David, the producers, have gathered a cast headed by stage and screen stars: Charlotte Wynters; Donald Kirk; Helen Holmes; Willis Claire; Sidney Melton; and seven others. The play is spicy and fast with many comedy situations. The central characters are typically English, well-bred, and liberal in their thoughts and expressions.
2 March 44 tip to movie fans: her husband, Hugh Enfield, USMS, co-authorized the soon-to-be published book I Came Back
17 November 44 her son Dennis Michael Enfield is born
17 February 45 her husband actor Craig Reynolds gets a break at Monogram studio. He will have a part with Kay Francis and Bruce Cabot in Divorce. If he comes up to expectations, Jeffrey Bernard will give him the male lead opposite Kay in Allotment Wives. It took him a long time to recover from his injuries suffered in action on Guadalcanal. The Marine hero received a Purple Heart.
December 45 under his real name of Hugh Enfield, her husband delivers Christmas packages for the Los Angeles post office. She says he refuses to sit home and do nothing. Columnist Louella Parsons asks why there isn’t some place for him in films.
26 October 46 her second child, John Hugh Enfield, is born
11 January 47 Louella Parsons writes that her old friend Warner Baxter is very kind and always has been. “He said he read the story about Craig Reynolds and Barbara Pepper in the column.” “I remembered Barbara Pepper,” said Warner, “and I asked for her in my picture Crime Doctor’s Vacation.” So now Barbara, who’s had rather a bad break and so has Craig (one of our number one heroes in the war) are finding the New Year starting better. This is Barbara’s first role since the birth of her second child last October. “Here’s wishing her good luck and Warner as well, who, for my money is a right guy.”
29 August 47 her husband, actor Craig Reynolds, gets his first break in pictures since his discharge, at Republic in The Fabulous Texan. Once third in popularity on the Warner Brother lot, he took a job as an ice-man to tide him over the bumps.
10 March 49 Louella Parsons tells that after six years of standing by and encouraging Craig, Barbara has gone back to her mother with the boys and is working in a laundry to support them. Through the years, Craig became bitter, and her life as not happy.
12 March 49 her husband phones columnist Louella Parsons to tell her that he makes $250 a month driving a cab, $150 of which he turns over to Barbara for child support. He said her working in a laundry is of her own volition. Barbara is suing him for divorce.
17 October 49 her husband Craig Reynolds suffers injuries when his motor scooter collides with a motorcycle. The motorcycle, piloted by Robert Earl Smith, 23 skidded into Reynolds’ scooter when its tires caught in car tracks.
22 October 49 Craig Reynolds dies in French Hospital, Los Angeles, from injuries suffered in a traffic accident on Monday. It will be the great tragedy of her life. He served four years in the Marines in WWII and won a Presidential citation. With two small boys to raise, her career suffers when she is forced into playing both mother and father. Unable to win acting roles, she works as a waitress and then, for two years, manages a self-service laundry. Almost twenty years later she will reflect: “It’s funny, when you ask for a job even in a drugstore, saying you are an out-of-work actress, the answer is no.” Still good friends with Lucille Ball, she says: “I couldn’t have gone on without Lucille’s help.”
Harrison Carroll quotes her in his column: “I don’t know yet what I will get from the government, but other people are being very kind. The chauffeur’s union was wonderful. They promptly sent me the $500 check for Craig’s insurance. My father-in-law has taken over, but I hope to pay the bills with this money. My brother agent has helped me, too. He called and said there is going to be a bit for me in a Twentieth Century-Fox picture. I need to lose weight, and I am going to Terry Hunt’s health salon here. He is so sweet. He refuses to accept any payment.” Carroll finishes with, “Fine! Now lets have more of it.”
52 begins appearing on various television shows, including sporadic parts on good friend Lucille Ball’s show, "I Love Lucy." She desperately wanted the role of Ethel Mertz, but Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz had already hired know alcoholic William Frawley for the part of Fred Mertz, and they did not want to run the risk of another drinker. Years later she will say of her television work: “My roles on television come in cycles, from brute heavies to comedy, just as they did in movies.”
12 July 55 there’s a Movietown heart tug in the acting debut of her son, 10-year-old Dennis Enfield, in “Sam,” a Stage Seven telefilm. “I kept him away from acting as long as I could,” she says. “Now it’s obvious he inherited a flair for it.”
65-69 a steady paycheck comes her way when she is chosen for the part of Doris Ziffel on television’s “Green Acres.” Hank Patterson plays her farmer-husband Fred. “Son” Arnold the Pig soon receives more fan mail than the two of them put together.
67 her son Dennis is a college student, and son Johnny is an aircraft plane worker, who is also in the Marine reserves
6 October 68 helps to officially open Sepulveda’s third annual Oktoberfest with ribbon cutting on festival grounds. She is the honorary sheriff of Sepulveda and is decked out in cowboy boots and hat. She will also help lead the parade.
68-69 her health deteriorates, and she is forced to give up the role of Doris Ziffel in "Green Acres". Fran Ryan replaces her.
18 July 69 dies of a heart ailment in a Panorama, California, hospital and is buried in Hollywood Forever cemetery, Section 2, Lot 12. Her headstone reads: “Our Mom, Barbara P. Enfield, 1915-1969.”
29 July 05 her son John is buried beside her
Author: Cheryl Messina
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Recommended Books:
Find A Grave
Finding Barbara