Lyda Roberti Profile

Lyda Roberti
Lyda Roberti
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20 May 06 is born in Warsaw, Poland, the daughter of Roberti, famous Continental circus clown; her mother is also in the circus as a trick rider. She has a sister, Manya, and a brother. Her grandfather was a circus clown and lived to be 100.
00s thru mid-20s travels with circuses throughout Europe, northern Africa, and Asia as a dancer in a sideshow, a bareback rider, and an aerialist. She is trapped in Russia during the war, flees across Siberia when the revolution begins, and finally reaches a Chinese port. Her most memorable experience occurs when the maddened revolutionists of Russia set fire to the circus. Her father locks her and her sister in a dressing room fearing they might be harmed if discovered by soldiers. He doesn't think of fire. One of the soldiers, who rushing into the flames to get the prize circus horse as loot, releases the girls from their apparent doom.
speaks four languages
Early '20s is stranded in Shanghai while in her teens when her father's circus goes bankrupt. There she works as a dancer in the Carlton café. Eventually, she salvages enough to pay her passage to the U.S., where she makes her debut in San Francisco in a Fanchon and Marco vaudeville unit as a chorus girl and as a stage dancer and a singer in Los Angeles.
19 January 31 attracts the attention of Lou Holz, famous stage comedian, who is producing a new musical comedy show, You Said It. He issues her a summons to go East, and she makes a hit with New York theater goers. Also in the cast is her sister, Manya, who came to the States three years ago. The play will run through July at Chanin's 46th Street Theatre.
27 February 31 O.O. McIntyre writes in his New York Day By Day column: "The Paramount theatre tower lights up only on Saturday night. The market crash made it soft for fortune tellers. Lyda Roberti, the platinum haired Polish girl, who is a new toast of Broadway. And deservedly."
15 April 31 the International News Service reports: "The Polish taffy girl sings a song 'Sweet and Hot.' It isn't exactly opera, but Lyda sizzles it so naively that it is worth walking miles down the aisles to see. The boys in the orchestra trenches called for so many encores that Lyda was embarrassed. Lyda looks so cute when she is embarrassed."
22 April 31 O.O. McIntyre pens: "Lyda Roberti, that flaxen haired Polish 'discovery' of Lou Holz, continues to be welcomed joyously among the Broadway crowds. Her youthfulness, marvelous mop of bright hair and comic paper dialect encompass a combination seldom attained among the bright lights."
26 June 31 columnist McIntyre says: "The effervescent Lyda Roberti and her hilarious Polish accent enriched Broadway storytellers weekly. The latest concerns the platinum haired star's attendance at a pent-house party. It was her first merry-making in New York. So she staid up until dawn, indulging several glasses of wine. During scene with Lou Holz that evening she moaned, 'I'm hangink over'-her dialect for hangover."
29 September 31 from O.O. McIntyre: "A beach fad for the seasonal flapper is a brown frock and floppy linen hat to match the autumnal shade of her tanned skin. One such monochrome, suggesting the carved, serene beauty of the Indian, with hair the light pulled taffy of Lyda Roberti's turns heads everywhere."
32 is signed by Paramount. The studio types her as a vamp and man-killer.
3 January 32 O.O. McIntyre reports: "The Palace may shortly have a bill including Lou Holz and Lyda Roberti, Beatrice Lillie and Ruth Etting. Panic programs."
4 February 32 from Harrison Carroll's column: "...Lyda Roberti, who draws a Paramount contract, waited on tables in China when her show stranded there."
10 June 32 from New York O.O. McIntyre ponders: "...soft languorous days such as this make me think of Valley Stream, L.I., for no reason at all. Lyda Roberti's pulled taffy hair."
15 June 32 "What's the matter with boys over here?" asks she, who once danced in a Shanghai café. "I went out with a boy and had to punch him to make him behave. I never had such trouble in Shanghai. But I love Hollywood."
4 November 32 is photographed for newspapers sitting on her suitcase with a glum look on her pan and holding a doll. Under the headline "All Dolled Out," it tells: "Just too tired and sad for words is Lyda Roberti, stage and screen star, pictured on her arrival in New York for rehearsals of a show in which she will appear, and her 'baby' bless its heart, just won't be rocked to sleep!"
20 January 33 stars on Broadway in Pardon My English at the Majestic. The show will run through February 25.
21 March 33 Gertrude Niesen once went home from a performance of You Said It and imitated Lyda Roberti, whom she admires very much. It was the applause of friends for her imitation that put into La Niesen's head the idea of trying for a career as a professional entertainer.
22 March 33 columnist Paul Harrison writes: "today's okays Lyda Roberti because she has glorified the role of stooge and can be just as delightfully mad offstage as on."
6 July 33 is an excellent cook. She tells newspaper audiences: "Most women do not realize how important are those little dashes of this and that. Eating tasteless food is not eating at all. We in Europe have long known, for instance, that sugar, which many people use only to sweeten, is a seasoner for meats. Used with salt and pepper, it brings out the flavor and makes the steak oh, so good." When entertaining at home, she often prepares Hamburg a la Roberti-so christened by those same friends because she invented it and makes it more temptingly than anyone else on Broadway. The recipe: 1 pound hamburg, 1 teaspoon each sugar and salt, and ¼ teaspoon pepper. Form into flat, loosely mixed cakes. Cut rounds of bread two to three inches in diameter and toast on one side only. Spread the ground seasoned beef on the other side and broil 5 minutes. Drop a bit of butter on each hamburg and serve tastefully garnished with sliced tomato or parsley.
18 November 33 stars on Broadway in Roberta. The show, which plays at the New Amsterdam Theatre, will run through next July 21.
6 December 33 advertises for Red Cross Shoes
15 December 33 O.O. McIntyre thinks that her laugh is like a pony's whinny
22 May 34 columnist Paul Harrison claims that he has never seen Lyda Roberti take a drink
9 January 35 Dan Thomas reports his ten-second interview with Lyda Roberti-Lyda doing all of the talking: "I won't make more than 2 pictures a year because I don't want to. I don't read good books. I hate exercise. I like to sleep late and I'm not in love with my work." How's that for a campaign speech?
10 January 35 lives in the same apartment building as Mae West, George Burns and Gracie Allen, George Raft, and Ida Lupino
26 January 35 will have a featured spot in the next edition of Scandals, which George White is planning for Broadway in May. Cliff Edwards is also booked.
13 March 35 is photographed in a Hollywood hospital with nurse Adelaide Mueller after her appendectomy
7 June 35 loses her heart as well as her appendix when hospitalized recently. Hugh B."Bud" Ernst, radio announcer and entertainer and former movie cameraman, is in the same hospital convalescing from injuries received in an auto accident. The two meet and have "dates" riding around the
corridors together in wheelchairs.
12 June 35 columnist Robert Coons reports: ".and here's Lyda Roberti who just celebrated a birthday anniversary, not knowing how old she is because her parents each insisted on a different year as the one in which she was born."
19 June 35 Bud Ernst pilots Lili Damita and Errol Flynn to Yuma, Arizona, for their wedding. He is best man and plans to take Lyda and make it a double ceremony, but she is unable to get off work.
25 June 35 marries Hugh "Bud" Ernst in Yuma, Arizona. Ernst, an expert flyer, takes his plane out of a hangar in the afternoon, grabs her away from the studio where she is making a movie, and flies the two in his plane. The ceremony is performed by Justice E. A. Freeman, the "Marrying Justice in Yuma." There is no honeymoon; the two return to Hollywood a few hours later. Ernst has to land the plane in darkness and on an unfamiliar field. They intended to return before sundown, but it is 8:30 p.m. before he arrives over Mines Field. He shaves some trees and high tension wires and eventually drops the wheels, not on the field, but on rough ground nearby. She is shaken by the landing.
3 July 35 Jack Oakie, who worked with her in The Big Broadcast of 1935, says she has one of the fastest wits he's ever come across. "One reason that we got along so well was just that we both liked laughs."
5 July 35 is sent to hospital by a recurrence of a recent illness just as she is preparing a honeymoon trip to Panama and on to New York with her husband of one week. She will be confined to bed for ten days.
10 July 35 columnist Dan Thomas reports: "Blond Lyda Roberti and her brand-new husband Bud Ernst are too interested in each other to pay any attention to menus or a waiting waitress."
17 July 35 in her penthouse apartment, she talks about her recent marriage, with her handsome 6'-4" husband sitting on the sofa: "I am happy for many reasons, but one of the principal ones is that my marriage will end my loneliness. It is such a change to come home to my apartment and find someone here, someone with whom I can talk over everything, and laugh a little at things that have occurred during the day. The world moves very fast in Hollywood. There is a constant parade of personalities. It is very confusing. One meets many persons, but gets to know very few.I suppose it is true in any large city. There is nothing like a family to anchor one and give a feeling of 'belonging' in the world that surrounds. In my case, that is particularly true. My mother and father are far off in the Orient. I have a brother and sister in this country, but they live thousands of miles away. But how can a movie actress be lonely in Hollywood? I have been asked many times. That is simple. It takes a long time to make good friends and without good friends, one is lonesome."
19 August 35 columnist James Aswell reports that Josephine Dillion, who used to be Mrs. Clark Gable and who coached him in camera prancing, is giving Lyda daily workouts in Thespian trickery
6 September 35 an unnamed travel agent tells about the difficulties of selling airline tickets to the stars, many of whom still prefer to travel by train and ship: "I stalked Lyda Roberti for eleven days. When I finally found her, she was gracious enough, but I lost her eventually. She and her husband, Bud Ernst, went East by boat."
36 lives in a white-walled apartment with a blond cocker spaniel named Herman, a black and white coach dog called Adolph, a gray-haired housekeeper who goes by the name of Coulter, and a black-haired personal made, Sonia. There used to be a husband named Bud Ernst, but he doesn't live with her any more, and she's getting a divorce. Coulter used to cook for Lili Damita and prepares fancy foreign food. Sonia speaks Polish almost exclusively and whips together all of the cosmetics used by Lyda, who doesn't care for the manufactured brands. Sonia also causes no end of trouble-unknowingly insults people with her poor English, frequently goes into temperamental rages, and gets telephone calls mixed up, but Lyda keeps her just the same.
when not working, she plays tennis or goes apartment hunting, with no intention at all of renting. Her brother is her chauffer. She once tried to learn to drive and cracked into a lamp post on her third lesson. She hasn't been behind a wheel since.
27 May 36 announces through her attorney, George Chasin, that she has parted from husband Ernst. Chasin says she expects to file suit for annulment shortly but refused to reveal on which grounds annulment would be sought.
29 August 36 is forced to withdraw from Wives Never Know at Paramount due to illness. She is replaced by Vivienne Osborne.
17 September 36 replaces the late Thelma Todd as Patsy Kelly's partner in the Hal Roach comedy series. With her thick Polish accent, she will portray a dizzy, word-juggling dame buffeted about by tough, wise-cracking Patsy, who has an accent herself, picked up on New York's East Side. She is happy about becoming the other half of a comedy team: "It eez vonderful. Seductive? I em not that. Comedy, that eez what I have wanted to play on the screen for three years. Instead, yes, they make me go around vamping. No, I didn't like that. Happy. I am that now. I weel show them I am funny. Patsy, she eez vonderful. She gives other people, what you say, the break. Mr. Roach, he eez vonderful. At last I can be funny instead of eye rolling at the men." On losing her nationality she says: "Many times they tell me to learn English. But I don't vant to. I don't vant to. I think better it eez to stay as I am."
November 36 moves into a new house and has fun decorating it. The more colors in the living room, the better she likes it. She says she and the interior decorators never agree. She spends the first night sleeping on a camp cot; the new furniture hasn't arrived.
15 November 36 is such a hit in her first scenes in a Hal Roach-MGM feature production, that her option is picked up by the Hal Roach Studios
19 November 36 Jimmie Fidler reports: "Lyda Roberti was the big gasp at the very hotsy-totsy Trocadero night club a few evenings ago. She arrived here clad in an evening gown with a long train. When she danced, the train got in her way, and Lyda has no patience with things that annoy her. She did exactly what I will wager many another woman has lacked nerve to do, strode into the ladies' powder room, borrowed a pair of scissors, calmly snipped off the irritating train."
36 - 38 is forced to curtail her film career because of frequent heart attacks
31 January 37 is secretly reconciled with her husband. They are afraid to announce the event because they're not sure it will last.
31 January 38 she and her husband are sued over a $122 grocery bill. Grocer William F. Webb claims he delivered the food to their Hollywood home last year and has not been paid.
13 March 38 suffers a severe heart attack during the night. Dr. Myron Babcock is called to her apartment and gives her heart stimulants, but to no avail. She dies with her husband, Hugh (Bud) Ernst, radio announcer, at her bedside.
15 March 38 a thousand or more gardenias and lilies cover her casket in a Hollywood mortuary. Four hundred persons pack the room. Floral tributes arrive from Lili Damita and Errol Flynn, Al Jolson, Patsy Kelly, Ginger Rogers, Jack Oakie, Wendie Barrie, Joe E. Brown, Hal Roach and Stan Laurel. Funeral services are conducted by Reverend Holmes.
as Lyda Roberti Ernst, she is interred at Forest Lawn Memorial Park, Glendale, Graceland section, lot 1628. Her headstone bears a line from Song of Solomon 2:17: "...Until the day break and the shadows flee away."
28 May 38 Jimmie Fidler reports: "I have often told you how superstitious these ladies and gentlemen of the grease paint are. Today I saw new evidence of it. I was talking on a Boulevard corner with Carole Lombard when Patsy Kelly drove by and Lombard said, 'I wouldn't be in her shoes for a million bucks. She used to co-star in comedies with Thelma Todd and Lyda Roberti, and they are both dead now.' And then in almost a whisper, she voiced one of the oldest superstitions of the theatre: 'Death always strikes three times.' I've been shuddering ever since."
16 June 38 columnist Charles D. Sampas writes: "It's awfully hard to visualize Hollywood without Lyda Roberti-or don't you remember her in Roberta?
1 June 39 Ernst marries Gwynne Pickford, 24, daughter of Mary Pickford's sister Lottie. It is Pickford's first marriage. Their daughter Susan will be born on August 5, 1944, with their marriage on shaky ground. The couple will divorce and Ernst will marry three more times, twice to actress Betty Furness. He is producer of the '40s radio show Queen for a Day.
11 April 50 39-year-old ex-Army flyer Bud Ernst phones Neil Maguire, Journal-American assistant city editor, from his staid East Side Westbury Hotel, upset over the crumble of his marriage to actress Betty Furness. Maguire tries to soothe Ernst by telling him to think things over and to call Betty, all the while scribbling a note telling a reporter to rush to the hotel. "I'm at the end of my rope. Get a reporter here in 10 minutes. Send up and you'll get a story." After hanging up, Ernst places the muzzle of a new 20-gauge shotgun into his mouth and pulls the trigger. A clipping of a newspaper Broadway column reporting that Ernst and Furness are to be divorced is found in the room. There are two notes, one still in the typewriter. One asks that Miss Furness be notified. The other is to "Jack," "I am tired of everything and I'm sorry for what I'm about to do."
Betty Furness identifies the body of Bud Ernst, having been taken to his hotel by the police waiting for her on the set of “Studio One,” during which broadcast he killed himself. He had sent her a note, through the mail, which she received the day after his death, saying,"Sorry, Mommy."
show business reaction is unanimous sympathy for Furness. Ernst was generally considered erratic. He had a luncheon reservation at the swanky Colony for the next noon.
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