Day 183 of Colourisation Project – November 6
Challenge: to publish daily a colourised photo that has some significance around the day of publication.
Born this day, November 6, 1903, in St. Cloud, Minnesota, USA, June Marlowe was a prolific actress of silent films during the 1920s, best remembered for her role of Miss Crabtree, the ‘pretty schoolteacher’ in the Our Gang comedy series.
Today’s photo of Marlowe has an ethereal quality that transcends time and place. Largely another unsung diva of the silent film era, Marlowe’s career lasted a brief ten years.
In 1925 she was named a WAMPAS Baby Star. (Western Association of Motion Picture Advertisers) Western Association of Motion Picture Advertisers, a promotional campaign running from 1922 to 1934, which honored young actresses each year whom they believed to be on the threshold of movie stardom.
Though largely forgotten today, Marlowe did reach the heights of stardom. In 1924 she came to the attention of Jack Warner, who promoted her as ‘The Most Beautiful Girl on the Screen’ and cast her in the first of five successful Rin Tin Tin films opposite their canine superstar. Her most significant silent movie role came in the 1926 Warner Brothers production of Don Juan in the role of Trusia opposite John Barrymore.
Marlowe, who was born of German parents, was signed by Universal who after several films, sent her to Germany, where she worked not only in films but on radio as well. Her excellent grasp of the German language made her very popular with the German public.
When she returned to the United States in 1930, sound was gaining a stronghold in the film industry. The transition for Marlowe proved difficult until she was asked to play the role of Miss Crabtree in the Our Gang series. Producer Hal Roach insisted she wear a blonde wig to match the young child star, Jackie Cooper’s blonde hair. Marlowe made six of the Our Gang shorts, securing herself a place in film history.
She appeared in a total of 39 films, beginning in 1923, including many comedies, notably Laurel and Hardy’s debut film in 1931 minus the blonde wig!
Her final appearance as Miss Crabtree in 1932 marked the end of her acting career, which she cut short by marriage in 1933 to Hollywood businessman Rodney Sprigg. She was only 30 years old when she turned her back on Hollywood. They traveled extensively, and Marlowe seemed content to eke out her existence playing the full-time role of a housewife pottering in the garden and doing charitable work.
Following the successful revival of Our Gang (renamed The Little Rascals) for TV, a publisher commissioned Marlowe in 1960 to write a series of children’s books. Marlowe completed only two books before the effects of Parkinson’s Disease forced her to abandon the project.
Marlowe passed away in 1984 from complications caused by Parkinson’s disease. She was 81 years old.
“She wasn’t a great actress; you just liked her, and that was enough”. Hal Roach producer of Our Gang series.