Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Gail Force


"I just don't have an actress's soul. I think mine has a dollar sign on it." - GAIL PATRICK

Cool, collected, chic - those were Gail Patrick's trademarks in her films of the 1930's and 1940's. She appeared in everything from musicals (Mississippi, 1935) to westerns (Wanderer of the Wasteland, 1935) to whodunits (The Preview Murder Mystery, 1936), and the majority of her output was in "B" productions - but the silky, professional elegance she brought to her roles as the haughty second lead in a quartet of "A"-list comedies cemented Patrick's reputation as the Art Deco Bitch nonpareil. She was Carole Lombard's scheming sister in My Man Godfrey (1936); Ginger Rogers' sparring partner in Stage Door (1937); Irene Dunne's rival for Cary Grant's affections in My Favorite Wife (1940); and, in Love Crazy (1941), Myrna Loy's nemesis vis-à-vis William Powell.

GAIL PATRICK IN COSTUME FOR LOVE CRAZY (1941)

Strangely, Patrick's career stalled during the 1940's. Perhaps it was that lack of an actress' soul, and ambition; or because her brittle, satin-smooth, cold-as-ice persona was too firmly rooted in the Deco Thirties to make the translation to the gutsier, wartime Forties. Retiring from films in 1948, she successfully transitioned to the business world, running her own children's clothing company and selling her product (all self-designed) to her movie star friends and colleagues. She then became a very successful producer, along with her third husband, Thomas Cornwell Jackson, of the Perry Mason television series.

GAIL PATRICK JACKSON WITH PERRY MASON STAR RAYMOND BURR AND AUTHOR EARLE STANLEY GARDNER

Obviously, Patrick retained the patrician good looks and regal bearing which made her a movie star, albeit a second-tier one. Those qualities were also on display in our last Mystery Guest entry - and it would have been a clean sweep of wrong guesses, had dark horse Stewie G not nabbed the prize at the finish line. Congratulations - your harlequin unitard is on the way, Stewie!


GAIL PATRICK
June 20, 1911 - July 6, 1980

2 comments:

  1. Love this part of her bio:

    She was studying pre-law at the University of Alabama at the time she, by happenstance, became a finalist in a nationwide contest for a Paramount film role (which she did not get). This led her to going to Hollywood and, despite her loss, the studio wound up offering her a studio contract at $50 a week (she managed to finagle her way to $75).

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