Monday, June 3, 2024

HELEN MACK - Not Fay Wray - The Son - Not the King

Mention, "The Eighth Wonder of the World", and someone is going to mention Fay Wray, but what about "His Son"? Who was that actress? You're about to meet HELEN MACK!

Helen McDougall was born on November 13, 1913, in Rock Island, Illinois, a town of approximately 24,400. Her father was a barber named William George McDougall, and her mother was Regina Lenser McDougall. 

The following comes from "The Pasadena Post", for Sunday, April 29, 1934, by reporter Thorval Tunheim

The noted Vera Gordon started Helen on her career when she was a mere child because of the thwarted stage ambition of her mother, Mrs. Regina Mack, who married a farmer boy to settle down in Rock Island, Ill.
Helen entered the Children's Professional School in New York and was given her first role by claiming she could dance when she could not. A succession of child roles followed both on Broadway and in Eastern moving picture studios.

Note: Helen's mother never used the last name of "Mack". 

Below is a photo of Russian-American silent screen actress Vera Gordon.

The "Professional Children's School" was founded for child actors and dancers, whose career goals had a direct effect on their lack of schooling. Initially, when a child was entering sixth-grade, their parents would enroll them in "PCS". Where they were taught the required school curriculum, but also training in their chosen field. Besides, Helen Mack, graduates in Theater, Film, and Television,  included Helen Chandler (1931's "Dracula"), Joan Blondell (Busby Berkeley musicals), Sandra Dee (Gidget), Ida Lupino (Actress and Director), Scarlett Johansson (Marvel's "Black Widow"), and Anne Francis (1956's classic science fiction motion picture, "Forbidden Planet" and televisions "Honey West).

I couldn't verify Helen Mack's first legitimate stage appearance, because several articles state it was in the original Broadway cast of "The Idle Inn", at 10-years-of-age. The play premiered at the "Plymouth Theatre", 236 West 45th Street (Now the "Gerald Schoenfeld Theatre"). All of those articles state the lead actor was Jacob Ben-Ami, and that's the problem. 

Yes, Ben-Ami had the lead, but the play's dates were December 20, 1921 - January 7, 1922, making Helen only 8-years-old, and she had not started appearing anywhere on stage, or in her first motion picture. Also, neither the "Playbill"for that production, nor the theatre's website, list a Helen Mack, or a Helen McDougall in the cast.

At the age of 9, and not 10, as many articles state, billed as "Helen Macks", the child-actress had her first on-screen role, as ninth-billed, "Ruth", in director Ralph Ince's, "Success", released on February 25, 1923, not 1925, again, as several articles state. Also, appearing with third-billing, was actress Mary Astor in her 14th, motion picture. My article is "MARY ASTOR co-starring John Barrymore, Douglas Fairbanks Sr., Clark Gable, Edward G. Robinson, William Powell, and of course Humphrey Bogart", which can be read at:

Gloria Swanson and H.B. Warner starred in "Zaza", released on September 16, 1923, with 9-years-old, Helen Mack, portraying "Lucille Dufresne" in her second motion picture,

The website "IMDb" indicates the much older-looking actress in the following photo is Helen Mack, appearing in the Gloria Swanson, 1923, "Zaza". Who the actress really is I could not discover.

It should be mentioned that in the Pauline Frederick, 1915 original film, "Lucille Dufresne" is not named, but indicated as "The Child". While in the Claudette Colbert, 1939 version, it appears the character was edited out of the story to conform with the censorship requirements at the time in the United States.

Still working for movie studios in New York and New Jersey. Helen Mack appeared in three other motion pictures between November 12, 1923, and January 27, 1924, with the last two filmed during her the run of her first, confirmed, Broadway production.

According to "Playbill", Helen Mack, below, was a "Performer" in the play "Neighbors", at the "48th Street Theatre", from December 26, 1923 through February 2, 1924. The photo was taken in 1923, at "The Billy Rose Theatre", in New York City. 

On September 21, 1926, 12-years-old Helen Mack, once again appeared on Broadway. The play was entitled "Yellow", at the "Nederlander Theatre", and ran through January 15, 1927. Once again, she was billed as a "Performer".

From the above, "The Pasadena Post", article:
When she was 13 she joined a vaudeville troupe and toured all over the United States.

Helen's vaudeville tour ended before September 24, 1929, when the 15-years-old actress once more appeared on the Broadway stage. The play was "Subway Express", at the "Liberty Theatre", on West 42nd Street, and ran through May 1, 1930. This time Helen Mack wasn't listed as a "Performer", but the "First Flapper".

Helen now returned to motion pictures with the last motion picture directed by D.W. Griffith, "The Struggle", released on December 10, 1931. 

The movie had second billed, Zita Johann, who the following year would portray, "Helen Grosvenor" the reincarnated,"Princess Anck-es-en-Amon", opposite Boris Karloff's, "Imhotep" aka: 1932's, "The Mummy". Some articles and websites, for example, "Wikipedia", for Griffth's "The Struggle", incorrectly list this feature film as Helen Mack's first motion picture. 

Helen Mack had tenth-billing in the feature as "A Catty Girl". In the following photo, she is seen immediately next to the open door, opening the door is first billed Hal Skelly, portraying the alcoholic husband whose marriage needs to be saved, a problem faced by D.W. Griffith himself.

My article is "D.W. GRIFFITH: 'The Birth of a Nation' (1915) and 'Abraham Lincoln' (1930): The Odyssey of a Kentucky Born Motion Picture Innovator" found at:

On February 7, 1932, the murder mystery, "The Silent Witness", starring Lionel Atwill, below center, with fourth-billed Helen Mack, portraying, "Sylvia Pierce", opened. The other actor is Bramwell Fletcher portraying Lionel Atwill's, "Sir Austin Howard's" son, 

Below, Fletcher with Mack, he portrayed "Ralph Norton" who read "The Scroll of Troth" in"The Mummy", bringing Karloff's "Imhotep" back to life.

Next for Helen Mack, was 1932's, "While Paris Sleeps", with co-star Victor McLaglen portraying her father. He escapes prison to save his daughter, Mack, from becoming a prostitute and takes down a gang of pimps.

Next, came the actresses first motion picture of 1933, an important year for Helen Mack's career. That first film was a drama, "Sweepings", starring Lionel Barrymore, and it was followed by another first for the actress, a western.

Released on March 24, 1933, "California Trail" starred "B" Cowboy, Buck Jones, who would make 166 westerns between 1914 and 1942. 

Buck Jones was billed as Charles "Buck" Jones portraying "Santa Fe Stewart".

Helen Mack portrayed  "Dolores Ramirez".

The basic "B" western screenplay has "Buck Jones" joining the peasants in California to fight the evil Commandante and his brother the mayor, who are starving them.

Two feature films later and "Blonde", Helen Mack, co-starred in a mystery set in London involving an American business man on vacation, a British Secret Service Agent, and the niece of a couple that may actually be part of an international gang of thieves, "Blind Adventure". 

Four names attached to "Blind Adventure" are important to Helen Mack's career. They are, Merian C. Cooper, Ernest B. Schoedsack, Ruth Rose, and her co-star, Robert Armstrong, seen above with her.

Three movies later, released on December 22, 1933 was:

Above is the original title card, but on re-release, the title dropped the word "The", and the feature just became "SON of KONG".

The production was created by the same team who had brought "The Eighth Wonder of the World" to the motion picture screen nine-months-earlier, on March 2, 1933, in, of course, New York City. 

Both motion pictures were produced by Merian C. Cooper. Not only was he a film-maker, but a spy for the "Office of Strategic Services (OSS)" that became the "Central Intelligence Agency (CIA)". My article is "MERIAN C. COOPER: BEFORE 'KING KONG' TO 'CINERAMA", real-life high adventure at:

"Son of Kong" was directed by Merian C. Cooper's long-time partner and fellow documentary film-maker, cinematographer, Ernest B. Schoedsack. Among their co-producing and co-directing work is the 1929 version of British author A.E.W. Mason's classic novel, "The Four Feathers", starring Richard Arlen, Fay Wray, and Clive Brook. Also, they made the 1932 version of American author Richard Connell's, "The Most Dangerous Game", starring Joel McCrea, Fay Wray, and Leslie Banks.

The story for "Son of Kong", was by Ernest B. Schoedsack's wife, Ruth Rose, she also wrote the screenplay. My article is "RUTH ROSE: The Real 'Ann Darrow', the 1933 'King Kong' Screenplay and More", at:

Above, left to right, Merian C. Cooper, Ruth Rose, and Ernest B. Schoedsack

There were two other team members that had brought "KING KONG" to life and returned to this motion picture. 

Getting the major credit was stop-motion-animator Willis O'Brien and my article about "Obie" is "WILLIS O'BRIEN: 1925's 'The Lost World' and the Story of Gwangi" to be read at:

While "Obie" made hundreds of drawings for a movie, and patiently, frame by frame, filmed his creations. The mostly unknown and forgotten Marcel Delgado built the models used by Willis O'Brien. My article is "MARCEL DELGADO: The Artist That Built the 1933 'King Kong" at:

Four actors from 1933's, "King Kong", returned in this motion picture in their original roles. One, probably most associated with that motion picture did not. As I mentioned her name in this article's title and her character in the article I wrote about Ruth Rose, I give my reader "FAY WRAY BEFORE 'KING KONG", aiming for stardom at:

Above, Fay Wray and Richard Arlen, in 1929's, "The Four Feathers".

The Main Cast of "The Son of Kong":

Robert Armstrong returned portraying "Carl Denham". He had just appeared in the 1933 action-adventure "Above the Clouds", and followed this movie with the 1934 family comedy, "Palooka", starring Jimmy Durante, Lupe Valdez, and Stuart Erwin. My article is "ROBERT ARMSTRONG: It Wasn't All 'The Eighth Wonder of the World' His Brat, or 'Joe'!", at:

Helen Mack portrayed "Hilda Peterson". She had just co-starred with "B" Cowboy Ken Maynard in the 1933 western "Fargo Express". Helen Mack would follow this feature film with 4th-billing behind Fredric March, Miriam Hopkins, and George Raft, in the 1934 drama, "All of Me".

Frank Reicher returned portraying "Captain Englehorn". Reicher between 1915's, "The Clue", and 1951's, "Superman and the Mole-Men", had 231 different on-screen roles. He had just been seen in the 1933, Barbara Stanwyck, Otto Kruger, and Ralph Bellamy, war romance, "Ever in My Heart", and followed this feature film with 1934's, "8 Girls in a Boat".

John Marston portrayed "Captain Niles Helstrom". I could not find any real biographical information about the actor, other than he died in New York City on September 2, 1962. According to the "Internet Broadway Database", and "Playbill", I did confirm that John Marston appeared on the Broadway stage at the newly opened in 1926, "Mansfield Theatre", in "The Night Duel", February 15, 1926. Which, more than likely, was the theatre's first production, but again, I could not locate information on his stage career. However, from the website "IMDb", John Marston appeared in 50 motion pictures starting in 1925 and ending in 1950. There is a break in his film work between 1942 and 1949, where he toured with the USO during the Second World War. 

Victor Wong returned portraying "Charlie - Chinese cook". Between 1933's, "King Kong", and 1933's, "Son of Kong", the character actor appeared in the 1933 movie, "White Woman", starring Carole Lombard, Charles Laughton, and Charles Bickford. Victor Wong followed this feature film by appearing in the Robert Young, Evelyn Venable, and Reginald Denny, 1935, "Vagabond Lady". During the Second World War, he portrayed a Japanese character four-times.

Noble Johnson returned portraying "The Native Chief of Skull Island". Too many people think of Noble Johnson in this one role, but his roles are a lot wider. Among those not associated with "Skull Island", is portraying "Queequeg", in the 1930 version of American author Herman Melville's "Moby Dick", starring John Barrymore. The "Nubian Slave" for Boris Karloff's "Imhotep", in 1932's, "The Mummy", and "Native American War Chief, Red Shirt", in director John Ford's, 1949, "She Wore a Yellow Ribbon". My article is "Noble Johnson African-American Pioneer Actor" at:

Ed Brady portrayed "Red". Character actor Brady started on-screen acting in a western short, 1911's, "Greater Love Hath No Man",  portraying both a "Cowboy" and a "Mexican miner". His career ended in 1942, portraying "A Keystone Cop", in "The Forest Rangers", Ed Brady's Three-hundred-and-seventy-second on-screen appearance with one-hundred-and-fifty of them, uncredited.

Ruth Rose Schoedsack's Screenplay (Spoilers Included):

It is one-month after New York City met "The Eighth Wonder of the World", and had to knock him off the Empire State Building, (the close-ups of the pilots in the bi-plane were portrayed by Merian C. Cooper and Ernest Schoedsack). Beauty may have killed the beast, but lawsuits are killing "Carl Denham's" money.

His landlady makes the mistake of letting in a lady reporter and afterwards, "Carl Denham" just has to get away from New York.

"Denham",in not much of a disguise, goes to see "Captain Englehorn", who is also facing creditors over "Kong".

The two decide that they will take "Englehorn's" ship, "The Venture", before it's repossessed, leave the United States, and form a cargo transporting company.

However, their cargo shipping business is not profitable and "The Venture" arrives at the Dutch East Indies (today's Indonesia) fictional port of Dakang. Walking around Dakang, the two come upon a poster for a show featuring trained monkey's and the "De Schonne Helene". "Denham" talks "Englehorn" into attending the show with him.

"De Schoone Helene", is actually "Hilda Peterson", (Helen Mack's character is never once referred to as "Hilda"). "Hilda Peterson's father", portrayed by Clarence Wilson, refers to her as "La Belle Helene", when she's on stage in the show. While, "Carl Denham", throughout the movie, refers to her as "Kid".

The two men watch the monkey's perform under the direction of "Mr. Peterson".


Next, he introduces his daughter as the, "La Belle Helene", and Helen Mack sings "Runaway Blues", (written by composer and scorer, Max Steiner, 1933's, "King Kong", 1939's, "Gone with the Wind", and 1956's, "The Searchers"). 

After the show is completed, outside of the tent the "Peterson's" use, "Denham" meets the "Kid" for the first time. Where she finds out he was once in show business with a monkey of his own.

That night, "Peterson" is drinking with a Norwegian, ex-Captain of a merchant ship, "Nils Helstrom". Who lost his ship under very questionable circumstances and is stuck in Dakang, because no one trusts him to even be a common sailor. "Hilda's" father has become very drunk and the two men start to argue, "Helstrom" kills "Peterson", leaves the body in the tent, and starts a fire to destroy the evidence. 

"Hilda" is able to get her father's body out of the tent and lets the monkey's go.

At a local bar, "Carl Denham" and "Captain Englehorn" are joined by "Captain Helstrom". "Denham" tells "Englehorn" that it was "Helstrom" that was given the map to "Skull Island" by a dying native and, next, sold it to him.

"Helstrom" realizes that these two are his way out of Dakang, before the police start questioning him about the murder of "Peterson". So, he asks the other two what they did with the treasure? Then fakes being surprised that they didn't find it, because he just made it up. "Denham" and "Englehorn" agree that the three will take "The Venture" and return to "Skull Island" to search for the treasure.

Later,"Carl" goes to say good-bye to the "Kid", and learns of her father's death and the fire that destroyed their tent. At the time, the "Kid" was attempting to round-up the monkey's to start her own show.

"Carl" attempts to cheer up the "Kid", but even when she expresses concern about her safety by being on her own. He refuses to take her with him on "The Venture". Next, "Hilda" confronts "Nils Helstrom" about the murder of her father.

At sea, "The Venture's" cook, "Charlie", is on deck and hears a noise from one of the lifeboats, and discovers "Hilda Peterson" as a stowaway.There is no turning back to return the "Kid" to Dakang, but "Carl" seems just a little bit happy to see her, as she is of him. 

However, she now comes across "Helstrom", who threatens "Hilda", if she says anything about the death of her father.

By the time "The Venture" lays off of "Skull Island", "Nils Helstrom", has worked-up the sailors, led by "Red", with the stories about how the sailors were killed by living dinosaurs. The last time "Englehorn's" ship laid off "Skull Island" and captured "King Kong".

"Nils Helstrom" now calls for a mutiny by the crew against "Captain Englehorn". A lifeboat is brought out and "Captain Englehorn", "Carl Denham", and especially "Hilda Peterson", are forced into it. "Charlie" decides to go with the three and they push off from the ship's gangway ladder. Next, "Nils Helstrom" declares himself "Captain" and starts to shout-out orders. At which, "Red" asks why they would force the good "Englehorn" off "The Venture" and take him as their "Captain"? The order is given by "Red", the crew toss "Helstrom" overboard and he makes it to the lifeboat, as "The Venture" heads back to sea.

The life boat makes it to shore at the same spot "Carl" and "Englehorn" had in "King Kong". They see the natives and while the two are happy to see them, the natives want them back at sea, because of what their "God" did to their village in his rage and the lives lost.

The lifeboat goes back into the water and they circle "Skull Island" to find another place to land. 

They now split into two groups with "Helstrom" and "Charlie" going with "Captain Englehorn".

While "Carl" and the "Kid" are going to the left, "Englehorn" and his group went to the right and entered the jungle and came upon a "Styracosaurus".

The "Styracosaurus" attacks the three men and they are able to get away by running into a cave. At the same time, "Carl" and the "Kid", come across a giant albino gorilla trapped in quicksand. The "Kid" wants "Denham" to help the gorilla, but "Denham" tells the "Kid", that he's worried that "Little Kong", he's only 12-feet-high, knows he was the one that killed his father?

"Denham" is able to help "Little Kong" get out of the quicksand and to "Carl's" surprise, "Little Kong" shows him an injured finger in need of first aide. Feeling anything but safe, "Carl" takes part of the "Kid's" slip and bandages the gorilla's finger. This creates a second surprise for the adventurer, the trust of the gorilla. 

Meanwhile, "Englehorn", "Helstrom", and "Charlie" are still in the cave, as back with "Carl" and the "Kid", a prehistoric "Cave Bear" attacks the two. This causes "Little Kong" to go for the cave bear and the two fight.

As the fight was taking place, "Carl" and the "Kid", are coming closer to each other, and in the end "Little Kong" is the victor. Next, "Carl" and the "Kid" are starting back the way the other three went, and find themselves being followed by "Little Kong". They come across the entrance to an abandoned temple, enter, and find a large idol with a jewel in the center of the head. 

"Little Kong" helps the them get the jewel, "Captain Nils Helstrom's" made-up treasure story turns out to be real. However, while the three are inside the temple, a "Nothosaurus" enters it.

"Little Kong" goes into protection mode and faces the "Nothosaurus" in front of the idol.

When the battle is over, "Little Kong", once more is the victor. "Captain Englehorn", "Helstrom", and "Charlie", once they were able to get out of the cave, head in the direction taken by "Denham" and "Hilda", and the two groups now meet at the abandoned temple. "Englehorn" has the same feelings as "Denham" when he sees "Little Kong". "Niles Helstrom" is just plain scared, but "Charlie" just goes with it. 

Now comes the somewhat weird climax;

When a hurricane force storm hits "Skull Island", in a panic, "Nils Helstrom" thinks he can escape both the hurricane and the 12-foot albino gorilla by stealing the lifeboat. Which leads not to his escape, but becoming dinner for a "Elasmosaurus".

Adding to the hurricane is a massive earthquake that will destroy "Skull Island" by sinking it into the ocean. None of the natives survive, before the earthquake hit, "Englehorn", "Hilda", and "Charlie" were able to recover the lifeboat and head away from the island. "Denham" was still on land as it cracks open, and the dinosaurs, natives, and other inhabitants of "Skull Island" fall into them.  Somehow, "Carl Denham" is still alive on what's left of "Little Kong's" home as it keeps sinking. "The Son of Kong" picks up "Carl Denham", as the island sinks below his waist holding the man who did a kind deed for him by simply bandaging his finger up.

The lifeboat comes up to the hand of "Little Kong", all that remains visible of the 12-foot-albino-gorilla, and takes "Carl Denham" onboard as the hand sinks under the raging water. 

On the deck of their rescue ship, "Carl" shows "HILDA" the jewel from the temple statue he saved. He tells her this means financial security split four-ways. Her reply is that by diving the jewel three-ways works very well with her.

As to the complaints about the screenplay not being serious. Ruth Rose has the last word on that comparison with "King Kong":
If you can't make it bigger, make it funnier.


On February 1, 1934, fourth-billed Helen Mack, was seen in "All of Me".  Mack's billing put her behind Fredric March, Miriam Hopkins, and George Raft, not bad for an actress who had just co-starred with a stop-motion-gorilla.

On July 13, 1934, Helen Mack had her first co-starring role with Gary Grant, in "Kiss and Make-Up". It's a comedy about a plastic surgeon at a Paris, France, beauty clinic that has most of the women he meets, just falling for him. The other co-star were comedian Genevieve Tobin and fourth-billed, was Edward Everett Horton.

A "Jean Harlow Blonde" Helen Mack, co-starred in the drama of a recently divorced stage actress, remarrying to a man her son hates, in "You Belong to Me", released on September 8, 1934. Helen Mack's two co-stars were Lee Tracy, 1932's, "Dr. X", co-starring Fay Wray, and 1934's, "Bombshell", co-starring Jean Harlow, and the great and tragic "Torch Singer", Helen Morgan. The original "Julie Laverne, in the Broadway cast of Jerome Kerns and Oscar Hammerstein's, "Showboat", and recreating that role in director James Whale's film version in 1936.

Above, Lee Tracy with Helen Mack, who sings "Sweepin' the Clouds Away", the young boy is Jack Holt as her son. Below, Helen Morgan, she apparently sang a "Blues Number", but I could not locate the title.

Both Helen Mack and Lee Tracy were back in their element in the comedy-drama, "The Lemon Drop Kid", based upon a short story by American journalist and short story writer Damon Runyon. 
The motion picture was released on September 28, 1934. Their third-co-star was William Frawley, "Fred Mertz" on televisions "I Love Lucy", 1951 - 1957. Frawley also appeared in the 1951, Bob Hope, version of the same story. Which has overshadowed this excellent motion picture.

Like most of Damon Runyon's stories, this is about a lovable con-man, "Wally Brooks", portrayed by Lee Tracy. Who meets and marries the right girl to reform him, "Alice Deering", portrayed by Helen Mack. However, as happens in many of the writers stories, there is a twist. In "The Lemon Drop Kid", "Alice" dies in child-birth and "Wally" is faced with how to raise his son? Then the moral kicks in, as in many of Runyon's tales, and "Wally Brooks" finds that even people he conned in the past, can come through for him.

Above, Lee Tracy and Helen Mack. Below, Lee Tracy and William Frawley.

On November 23, 1934, Helen Mack was seen with fifth- billing, in "College Rhythm", starring radio comedian, Joe Penner, and actor-comedian, Jack Oakie. Whose next motion picture was co-starring with Clark Gable, and Loretta Young, in the 1935 production of American author Jack London's, "The Call of the Wild".

From December 13, 1934 through January 12, 1935, at the Hollywood Theatre, 1655 Broadway, New York, New York, Helen Mack appeared as a "Showgirl", in "Calling All Stars".

On February 14, 1935, "The San Francisco Examiner" contained this wedding announcement:

Helen Mack didn't get much time for a honeymoon, as her next feature film was in production from March 12, 1935 into May 1935

SHE released on July 12, 1935

My article about the author is "H. RIDER HAGGARD ON MOTION PICTURE FILM: Ayesha and Allan Quartermain" for the explorer of ancient legends at:

The motion picture was once more produced by Merian C. Cooper. Whose next feature film as a producer was 1935's, "The Last Days of Pompeii". Which he would co-direct with Ernest B. Schoedsack from a story by Ruth Rose.

The adaptation for the screen of H. Rider Haggard's, "She: A History of Adventure", published in book form in 1887, was from Ruth Rose. 

The actual screenplay was written by Dudley Nichols, "Academy Award Best Screenplay" winner for director John Ford's, 1935, "The Informer". Among his screenplays just for John Ford are 1934's, "The Lost Patrol", 1936's, "Mary of Scotland", 1937's, "The Hurricane", 1939's, "Stagecoach", and the narration for John Ford's, filmed while he was under Japanese air attack, 1942's, "The Battle of Midway".

There were two co-directors on this feature film:

This was Lansing C. Holden's first of only two directing assignments and the other was a 1938 short subject. He was also an art director, but that was only for three films. Although, he also was the production designer for 1937's, "A Star is Born".  

The other director, Irving Pichel, had a far different career. As an actor, Pichel appeared in 74-roles between 1930 and 1953. As a motion picture director, he would direct 40-features, starting with Merian C. Cooper and Ernest B. Schoedsack's, 1932, "The Most Dangerous Game". 

The Main Cast of "She":

Helen Gahagan portrayed "She, Who Must Be Obeyed". Not mentioned in this screenplay is that H. Rider Haggard's character has an actual name of "Ayesha, she would must be obeyed. 

Gahagan is an interesting person in her own right. She was a major Broadway stage actress and this was her only motion picture. She toured Europe as a successful opera singer. In 1931, Helen Gahagan married actor Melvyn Douglas, and they stayed married until her death in 1980. Helen Gahagan Douglas became a politician and was the protege of Eleanor Roosevelt. In 1945, she became only the third woman and first woman from the Democratic Party to be elected to Congress. She was a member of the "House of Representatives" from California and decided to run for the open Senate seat. Her 1950 Senate race is famous, Gahagan Douglas's Republican opposition was also a member of the "House of Representatives", Richard Milhous Nixon. This was a dirty fight and Nixon and the "Republican Party" knew she was very anti-Communist, but this was during "The Second Red Scare" and they wanted to make the voters think she had Communist sympathies. Afraid to call he either a "Commie", or a "Red", Nixon started to refer to Helen Gahagan Douglas as "Wearing PINK Underwear". She became known as "THE PINK LADY" and that was as good as telling the voters she was a "Red". Gahagan Douglas fought back by calling Richard Milhous Nixon, "TRICKY DICKY!". She lost!

Randolph Scott portrayed "Leo Vincey". Scott's motion picture career started in 1928, with the silent motion picture "Sharp Shooters", in the "Uncredited" role of the"Foreign Serviceman in Moroccan cafe". Of the actors next eleven movie appearances, only one was fully credited and that was with sixteenth-billing. In 1931, Randolph Scott had third-billing in the forgotten drama, "Women Men Marry". From that movie forward, the actor was getting full credit, if not the leading roles. For the record one of those uncredited roles was in the genre Scott is most identified with, his first western was 1929's, "The Virginian", starring Gary Cooper and Walter Huston. His first starring western was 1932's, "Heritage of the Desert", based upon a Zane Grey novel and directed by Henry Hathaway.
In 1933, Randolph Scott co-starred with Carol Lombard in the horror-mystery, "Supernatural". By 1935, the actor was a confirmed "B" western star.

Above, Helen Gahagan and Randoph Scott in a scene from the colorized version of "She", supervised by stop-motion-animator Ray Harryhausen. Note the color of her gown, Walter Elias Disney saw and fell in love with the motion picture and the look of "She, who must be obeyed". He used that look for his evil queen in the 1939 animated, "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs", and Ray used Disney's colors for his colorization.

Helen Mack portrayed "Tanya Dugmore". She had just been in a forgotten 1935 crime drama entitled, "Four Hours to Kill". The title is misleading as it does not refer to a killer, but the time a police officer with a fugitive killer in custody has to wait for transportation to take him the two-thousand-miles to prison. So, having "to kill" four-hours, the police officer takes his prisoner to a legitimate theater to watch a show. There, it turns out the theater's hostess is the wife of the man that informed on the killer the police officer has in custody. As a secondary love story involving Helen Mack's character and her boyfriend, believed to have stolen an expensive piece of jewelry, enfolds. Their love story ties the informers wife, the killer in custody, and an adulterous couple into the love story. All leading to a climatic shoot-out in the theater.


Nigel Bruce portrayed "Horace Holly". Four-years after this motion picture, character actor Nigel Bruce first portrayed "Dr. John H. Watson, M.D." to Basil Rathbone's, "Sherlock Holmes", in the 1939 version of British author Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's, "The Hound of the Baskervilles". I bring that fact up, because in "SHE", the actor plays "Horace Holly" exactly like he played "Dr. Watson, except to Randolph Scott's, "Leo Vincey", and not Rathbone's, "Holmes".

The following is modified from my article linked above to H. Rider Haggard. 

Ruth Rose moved the location of the "City of Kor", from Africa to the Serbian Arctic. Being filmed in 1935, "Art Director", Van Nest Polglase, turned "Kor" into "Art Deco" gone wild.

Ruth Rose's Basic Story (Spoilers Included):

"Leo Vincey" has been called back to England, from Canada, to his families ancestral estate by his dying uncle, "John Vincey", portrayed by Samuel Hinds. There he meets his uncle's best friend, "Horace Holly". Those two men tell "Leo" a fantastic story about his ancestor, also named "Leo Vincey", who led an expedition, accompanied by his wife, into the Siberian Arctic and discovered the "Fountain of Youth". "Leo's" ancestors expedition took place 500-years ago, and only that "Leo Vincey's" wife returned, but with his journal. After which she never told anyone what had happened to her husband.

This "Leo" is shown a portrait of the other "Leo", and is amazed at the resemblance. Before his uncle dies that same night, his ancestors journal is given to this "Leo", and accompanied by "Holly", the two set out to find the "Fountain of Youth" and what happened to his ancestor.

Following the directions in his ancestor's journal, "Leo" and "Holly" travel to the Serbian Arctic in search of the truth, if any, in the journals strange tale. There they meet a guide named
"Dugmore", played by Lumsden Hare, who believes they have a map to a legendary treasure. "Leo" and "Holly" also meet "Dugmore's" mistreated, almost as a slave, daughter, "Tanya". 

With porters at the start of their journey, the four set out to climb the mountain that is alleged to contain "The Fountain of Youth".

The porters desert and the four come across a saber tooth tiger frozen in the ice.

"Dugmore" will be killed by falling off an ice shelf, leaving "Leo", "Holly" and "Tanya" to go on, but as they progress up the mountain, "Leo" becomes deathly ill.

With "Leo" seemingly close to death, the three come across a strange ancient race, the "Amahaggar", and are taken into the outer part of the "Legendary City of Kor".

The "Amahaggar" were once cannibals, but have been forced to stop the practice by order of "Ayesha, She Who Must Be Obeyed". However, they revert back to the practice upon finding the three "White" travelers. 

On the order of the "Amahaggar Chief", portrayed by Noble Johnson, "Holly" is about to have a red hot headpiece placed over his head and onto his shoulders.


When horns blare, and every action of the "Amahaggar" seems to freeze in place. "Holly" and "Tanya" stare in amazement at "Ayesha", who upon seeing "Leo", lets out a scream. She is looking upon her lover, "Kallikrates", from 500-years ago, and instructs her high priest "Billali", portrayed by Gustav von Seyffertitz, to get the three strangers quarters and medical care for her "Kallikrates - Leo Vincey", who has returned to her.

"Tanya" begs "Ayesha"  to let her nurse "Leo" back to health and she is permitted, but the ruler of "Kor" recognizes a rival that must be taken care of.

After "Leo" recovers, along with "Holly" and "Tanya", the three are called to witness the wrath of "SHE Who Must Be Obeyed!". 

"SHE" orders the executions, including their chief, of several of the "Amahaggar" men for reverting back to cannibalism. These executions are over "Leo's" objections, but "SHE" says this is necessary for "Ayesha" to remain in power by causing fear in her subjects.


Later, after the execution, "Ayesha" shows this "Leo" the body of "Kallikrates". Which she has kept preserved until his return to her once more. "Leo" stares at his own face in disbelief. 

"Ayesha" claims she murdered his ancestor in a fit of jealous rage over his wife. "Leo" says that's impossible, because it would have to have happened 500-years ago. "Ayesha" takes him to where the "Pillar of Fire" is and explains that when it turns "Blue and Cold", you enter and never age. "Leo Vincey" realizes he's staring at the mythical, "Fountain of Youth", that he and his ancestor was searching for.


"Ayesha" now moves on "Tanya", who is obviously in love with "Leo", and arranges to have her sacrificed as both"Leo" and "Holly" unknowingly watch. Initially, the gagged and veiled "Tanya" is brought to the same place the "Amahaggar" were executed.


"Ayesha's" plan of course does not work and "Leo" rescues "Tanya".

"Leo" takes "Holly" to see the "Pillar of Fire", "Ayesha" arrives and attempts to have her reborn 
"Kallikrates" to join her in eternal life by entering the flame when it turns cold. To prove entering is safe "Ayesha" enters the flame and ages 2,000 years, because you can only enter the flame once!



At the same moment, the "Amahaggar" start a revolt and their battle against the once "She, Who Must Be Obeyed's" soldiers takes place. "Leo" and "Holly" locate "Tanya" and fight their way out of "The Lost City of Kor", and start back to their civilization.

From the adventure of H. Rider Haggard's novel, two motion pictures later, Helen Mack was appearing on-screen with one of the most influential comedians of the "Silent Picture Era".

THE MILKY WAY released on February 7, 1936

This classic piece of "screwball comedy" is considered the best of comedian Harold Lloyd's "Talkies". There are nine, if you consider the part silent-part sound, 1928, "Speedy" in the count, out of the comedian's 212 on-screen appearances since 1913. 

The fact that the movie was ever made seems a miracle and the casting of the first three-names after the film's title on the above poster is, in some ways, a story in itself. So, let me begin---

In 1934, a Broadway play by Lynn Root, he would switch to motion picture screenplays in 1937, and Harry Clork, he switched to screenplays in 1935, was a comedy success and was acquired by "Paramount Pictures" for actor Jack Oakie. The play was turned into a screenplay by five-writers, including "additional dialogue" added by Clork.

The main screenplay was written by "Academy Award" nominated writer, Grover Jones, 1935's,"The Lives of a Bengal Lancer", Frank Butler, 1942's, "The Road to Morocco", starring Bob Hope, Bing Crosby, and Dorothy Lamour, and Richard Connell, 1932's, "The Most Dangerous Game". While, Doris Malloy was an uncredited writer.

The original director was Leo McCarey, the Marx Brothers, 1933, "Duck Soup", but he became ill and hospitalized. He was replaced by two other uncredited directors, his brother Ray McCarey, Laurel and Hardy's, 1932, "Pack Up Your Troubles", and Norman Z. McLeod, the Mark Brothers, 1931, "Monkey Business".

Next there were casting problems:

As I mentioned the play was optioned for Jack Oakie to portray the lead, "Burleigh 'Tiger' Sullivan". I could not locate why Oakie was replaced in the role by Harold Lloyd, but when that took place, other cast changes were made.

Comedian Edward Everett Horton was to have portrayed "Gabby Sloan, Sullivan's Manager", but the "Paramount" executives thought his comedy style was very close to Lloyd's, and he was let go from the role. William Frawley was considered, but the role finally went to actor Adolphe Menjou.

Above left to right, Harold Lloyd portraying "Tiger Sullivan", Adolphe Menjou portraying "Honest Gaby Sloan, Speed McFarland's manager" , Lionel Stadler portraying "Spider Shultz, Speed McFarland's bodyguard", and William Gargon portraying "Middle Weight Boxing Champion, Speed McFarland, "Brian Donlevy, who had portrayed the role on Broadway, was first considered for the role of "McFarland". As was professional boxer, Max Baer.

Now a look at the ladies:

Actress Gail Patrick was hired to portray "Ann Westley", but she was let go and replaced by Verree Teasdale, the newly wed wife of Adolphe Menjou. 

Actress Sally Blane had been cast in the role of "Burleigh's" sister, "Mae Sullivan", but she was let go and replaced by Helen Mack.

The Very Basic Story Line (Comic Lines and Gags not included):

"Burliegh Sullivan" is a timid milk wagon delivery man making his normal deliveries for "Sunflower Diaries". Two drunk men see his sister "Mae" and start making passes and other remarks at her. "Burliegh" is driving by and sees this, gets off his wagon, and attempts to stop the drunks. A brawl starts and one of the men is knocked out and the other gets away. The press picks up the story claiming "Burliegh"knocked the man out, but he never even threw a punch. The problem for the timid milkman is that the man that was knocked out is "World Middle Weight Boxing Champion" "Speed McFarland". 

"Speed's" manager, the crooked promoter, "HONEST Gaby Sloan" has to figure a way out of the mess caused by the fake knockout. He convinces  "Sullivan" to train as a boxer, fixes some fights, and "Tiger Sullivan" is set for the "World Middle Weight Boxing Championship" against "Speed McFarland". Figuring that "Speed" will win and confirm he is still the "Champion", of course he loses and "Burliegh 'Tiger' Sullivan" gets the title.

Trivia: Don't blink during the championship match and you might miss fight spectator Anthony Quinn in his uncredited first motion picture role.

Between 1936 and 1939, the "Spanish Civil War" unfolded as the world watched, and United States newspapers, like other countries, sent reporters to cover it. An American writer named Ernest Hemingway, not only went to Spain as a reporter, twice, but while in the country wrote his only play, "The Fifth Column", and in 1940, would publish his classic novel set during the war, "For Whom the Bell Tolls". Like many reporters, and foreigners, his home base was Madrid. 

Helen Mack appeared in the first motion picture made using the Spanish Civil War as a backdrop. 


The story for the screenplay was written by two writers, "B" screenplay writer Paul Hervey Fox and his daughter the future children's novelist, Elsie Fox. 

The actual screenplay was written by two writers, Louis Stevenson was a solid "B" writer who did work on the screenplay for 1931's, "Dracula". Robert Wyler was the older brother of director William Wyler. Among his screenplays for his brother are 1949's, "The Heiress", 1951's, "Detective Story", 1953, "Roman Holiday", 1956, "Friendly Persuasion", and 1958's, "The Big Country".

The motion picture was directed by James P. Hogan, a solid "B director who worked on the "Bulldog Drummond" series, that starred either Ray Milland, or John Howard. Along with the similar "Ellery Queen" series, that starred either Ralph Bellamy, or William Gargon. His last film was a horror entry for "Universal Pictures", 1943's, "The Mad Ghoul", starring Turban Bey, Evelyn Ankers, and George Zucco.

Dorothy Lamour portrayed "Carmelita Castillo", she was very miscast for this role, because she was required to act. Lamour had just co-starred with Irene Dunne and Randolph Scott, in the Oscar Hammerstein II musical, 1937's, "High, Wide and Handsome". The future third wheel in the Bob Hope and Bing Crosby "Road" movies, followed this motion picture with director John Ford's, 1937, "The Hurricane", co-starring with Jon Hall, and Mary Astor.


Lew Ayres portrayed "Bill Dexter". Ayres was six-films away from the one character he would always be associated with, in 1938's, "Young Dr. Kildare". He would appear in that role for another eight motion pictures.

Olympe Bradna, the Paris, France, born actress and dancer portrayed "Maria Ronda". She retired in 1941, after marrying Douglas Woods Wilhoit. The couple stayed married until his death in February 2012, she passed away a few months later in November. The couple had four children, five grandchildren, and eight great grandchildren.

Gilbert Roland portrayed "Eduardo de Soto". According to interviews, his parents fled Mexico when Pancho Villa took over their town and moved to Texas. At the age of 14, he left Texas for Hollywood, and of his first three roles as an uncredited extra, don't try and locate him. Two are silent film classics, 1923's, "The Hunchback of Notre Dame", starring Lon Chaney, and stop-motion-animator Willis O'Brien's, 1925, "The Lost World". Just before this feature, Gilbert Roland was in the Brian Donlevy and Francis Drake, crime drama, 1937's, "Midnight Taxi". He followed this picture portraying "Dick Ames - aka: Arizona Lopez", co-starring with Charles Bickford, in the 1937, western, "Thunder Trail". 

Karen Morley portrayed "Baroness Helene Rafitee". You may not remember her, but her career contained some very good movies including the excellent American version of German director Fritz Lang's, "M", in 1951. Her earlier work included Greta Garbo's, 1931, "Mata Hari", fourth billing in director Howard Hawk's, 1932, "Scarface", and co-starring with Boris Karloff, in 1932's, "The Mask of Fu Manchu", with a fifth-billed Myrna Loy. On the lighter side, she was in Shirley Temple's, 1935, "The Littlest Rebel".

Lionel Atwill portrayed "Colonel Vigo". He had just been seen in director James Whale's, First World War, anti-war drama, 1937's, "The Road Back", and followed this feature film with another First World War drama, 1937's, "Lancer Spy", starring George Sanders. My article is "Lionel Atwill: The Legitimate Stage, Classic and Not So Classic Horror, and 'Sherlock Holmes" at:

Helen Mack portrayed "Lola". She had just been seen by audiences in the 1937, drama, "You Can't Buy Luck", co-starring with Onslow Stevens. Her co-star, besides portraying the hero in several "B" movies, was in two classic Science Fiction-Horror movies. He was the doctor trying to cure "Larry Talbot" of being "The Wolf Man", and "Baron Latos (Dracula)" of being a vampire, in 1945's, "House of Dracula", and he portrayed "Brigadier General Robert O'Brien", going after mutated ants, in 1954's, "THEM!"

Above, Helen Mack with Robert "Bob" Cummings portraying "Juan Ramos". Cummings using the stage name of Bruce Hutchens, appeared on the Broadway stage in "The Ziegfeld Follies of 1934", and then the singer toured with the show. Both on Broadway and on tour, Charles Clarence Robert Orville Cummings was performing a duet with Vivi Janiss,  who became his second of five wives. For his first feature film, he had an uncredited very minor role in Laurel and Hardy's, 1933's, "Sons of the Desert". The actor followed this motion picture with 1937's, "Souls at Sea", with seventh-billing, the movie starred Gary Cooper, George Raft, and Francis Dee.

Anthony Quinn portrayed "Captain Ricard Alvarez", this was Quinn's ninth feature film. He had just had an uncredited role in 1937's, "Under Strange Flags", about "Pancho Villa", and appeared next, in a comedy crime feature, 1937's, "Partners in Crime".

With this strong "B" cast, and the backdrop of the Spanish Civil War, "Paramount Pictures" thought they had a box office winner. Fortunately for Cary Grant, his contract with the studio had run out before shooting was scheduled to start and he left "Paramount". The studio had planned the movie for him, and Grant was replaced by Lew Ayres.

It appears that someone at "Paramount Pictures", got the idea in their head, that they wanted to turn this motion picture into another "Grand Hotel" from 1932. That with a cast of "A-List Actors", no offense intended against this cast, the feature film gave "Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer" the "Best Picture Academy Award". That screenplay takes a look at the guests in a Berlin, Germany, upper class hotel, and follows their interactions within it. The budget for that picture was $750,000-1932-dollars, and had a box office of $2,594,000. 

However, for "Paramount", the "Grand Hotel", became an over crowded passenger train speeding away from Madrid, Spain. Both the budget and what the box office was for the motion picture appears to be still unknown. The director used newsreel footage shot, at the time, of the Spanish Civil War to "give the story reality." The lack of not having the apparently needed budget to make the studio's executives dream movie come true, and not knowing the actual box office. According to several reviews I read, is evident on screen.

The screenplay looks at seven people on one day during the Spanish Civil War. Showing how their lives converge as each attempts to get the needed permits to board what is going to be "The Last Train from Madrid" and safely out of the loyalist controlled city. Those that are able to get their permits, board the train, and then through flashbacks, the audience learns their background stories.

Dorothy Lamour is loved by long-time friends, Gilbert Roland and Anthony Quinn, who are now on opposite sides of the war. Quinn will sacrifice himself for friendship over patriotism.

Lew Ayers is an American newspaper reporter, nothing like Ernest Hemingway as we know him to have been, who becomes involved with the daughter of a fugitive. Who is herself, a freedom fighter in the war, portrayed by Olympe Bradna.

Robert Cummings was a soldier who disobeyed the firing squad order to shoot an innocent man and finds tragic love with Helen Mack, a hooker from Valencia. Three-years earlier, the "Motion Picture Production Code" went into effect and this movie could not portray her character as they would have during the "Pre-Code" period. Joseph Breen of the "Hays Censorship Office" had several "recommended cuts" to Mack's role. 

I couldn't find out anything about Karen Morely's "Baroness", or details about Lionel Atwill's character other than the pictures I used would imply. Some scenes were filmed at and in,Cecil B. DeMilles "Spanish Bungalow", that the producer and co-owner of the studio, at this time, had built for his comfort on the "Paramount" lot. He also appears as an extra in a scene in this feature.

In 1938, Helen Mack's divorce from Charles Irwin became final.

Robert Cummings had been dropped from "Paramount" in September 1938. I could not locate the exact details, but the "Washington Post" for March 29, 1939, had the following headline on a story by Frederic C. Othman, "Prize faker has finally lands regular job". "Prize faker"? 

Cummings was quoted as stating:
I was poison, not an agent would look at me.

However, what did happen was, "Republic Pictures" hired him opposite Helen Mack and Lyle Talbot in "I Stand Accused", first released October 1938 in the United States.

Three motion pictures later found Helen Mack as nurse in a routine film-noir mystery.

MYSTERY OF THE WHITE ROOM released on March 17, 1939

This was part of "Universal Pictures CRIME CLUB MYSTERY PRODUCTION", and is more like their "Inner Sanctum Mysteries". Eye surgery is taking place, suddenly the lights go out, and the chief surgeon is murdered with a scalpel. The one witness, is the patient. The unknown murder tosses acid in his face blinding him and leaving no one able to know who the murderer is? Can "Nurse Carole Dale's", portrayed by Helen Mack, boyfriend, "Dr. Bob Clayton", portrayed by "King Kong's", Bruce Cabot, solve the murder? 

The following link, as of this writing, takes my reader to the answer.

With fifteenth-billing (Maybe), Helen Mack was back with Cary Grant in a revision of the 1928 classic play, still being performed somewhere, "The Front Page".

HIS GIRL FRIDAY premiering in New York City on January 11, 1940

The screenplay was based upon a stage play co-written by Ben Hecht. Who would co-write 11 plays, of which, 3 would be turned into motion pictures. Hecht wrote, or co-wrote 165 screenplays including Howard Hawks, 1932's, "Scarface", Hawks and William A. Wellman's, 1934, "Viva Villa", director George Stevens, 1939, "Gunga Din", and Alfred Hitchcock's, 1944 "Lifeboat", 1945, "Spellbound", and 1946's, "Notorious". Not to forget Ben Hecht's, 35 novels. He also worked on the screenplay for this motion picture.

Ben Hecht's stage play co-writer was Charles MacArthur, and with Ben Hecht, they were nominated three-times for the "Best Screenplay Academy Award". The two won once for 1936's, "The Scoundrel". MacArthur is the uncredited screenplay writer for director Tod Browning's, 1932's, "Freaks". That same year he wrote the screenplay for "Rasputin and the Empress", starring John, Lionel, and Ethel Barrymore. 

The actual screenplay for this motion picture was written by Charles Lederer. Among his screenplays are the Clark Gable and Hedy Lamarr, 1940, "Comrade X", the classic film-noir that introduced Richard Widmark, 1947's, "Kiss of Death", and Howard Hawks', 1951, "The Thing from Another World".

The motion picture was directed by Howard Hawks. Some of his other movies I haven't mentioned are the Gary Cooper, 1941, "Sergeant York", and the Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall, 1944, Ernest Hemingway, "To Have and Have Not", and their, 1946, "The Big Sleep". My article is "Howard Hawks' 'RIO BRAVO' Remade (?) as 'EL DORADO' and 'RIO LOBO' starring John Wayne", at:

Cary Grant portrayed "Walter Burns". He has just appeared with Carole Lombard and Kay Francis in 1939's, "In Name Only'. Grant followed this motion picture with second billing to Irene Dunne, in 1940's, "My Favorite Wife".

Rosalind Russell portrayed "Hildy Johnson". Ben Hecht and Charles MacArthur kept the character's name, but changed the role of "Hildy" from a man to a woman. This was accomplished by turning the character's first name to a nickname for "Hildegarde". The actress had just co-starred with Norma Shearer and Joan Crawford in director George Cukor's, 1939, "The Women". She followed this feature film with the comedy drama, 1940's, "No Time for Comedy", co-starring with James Stewart.

Helen Mack portrayed "Mollie Malloy". Now let's talk about her billing, on the "Official Cast Listing", Mack is in the previously mentioned 15th-billing. The above poster for the motion picture doesn't show her at all, as does all the posters I looked at. However, the opening credits for the movie, below,  gives Helen Mack, 5th-billing. So, take your pick as to the importance of her role.

This is an extremely popular, 10 of 10 stars, screwball-comedy, about the editor of a newspaper, 
Grant's "Walter", whose ex-wife, Russell's "Hildy", is about to marry insurance salesman, Ralph Bellamy's, "Bruce Baldwin". "Walter" plans to sabotage the marriage, because he still loves "Hildy". Bookkeeper, "Earl Williams", portrayed by John Qualen, is accused of murder, and escapes jail. He goes to "Hildy", to tell his story about being framed. She hides him in a roll top desk in her office at the newspaper, as she attempts to prove his innocence. That desk with "Williams" in it, because a hilarious prop and sequences throughout most of the motion picture.

Add to this, Helen Mack's, "Mollie", the friend of "Earl Williams", who happens to be suicidal, and plays the role deadpan and serious against all the others doing comedy. She comes to the newspaper office looking for "Earl Williams", gets mixed-up with the roll top desk sequences and jumps out of a top floor window in a beautiful swan dive. You need to see the movie to understand, but she is just perfect and stands-out from the rest of the supporting cast.

At the time of this writing, the following link will take my reader to "His Girl Friday".

Helen Mack's next movie was a look at women hobo's, a subject almost every other movie made during and about "The Great Depression" conveniently overlooked.

GIRLS OF THE ROAD released July 24, 1940

Yes, this looks like a low-budget exploitation film and you're right, except for two things. One are the three-names on the above poster. Two is that the film makers actually attempted to look at the social issues faced by women during the depression, but "Columbia Pictures" was a low-budget, make a buck, studio at the time, and expected something else.

The screenplay was written by Robert Hardy Andrews, a newspaper reporter for the "Chicago Daily News". Who became a radio fiction writer, and turned one of his stories into a novel. Then the novel into a 1931 screenplay entitled "Three Girls Lost". A movie starring Loretta Young and John Wayne, his third credited movie role.

The movie was directed by Nick Grinde, a "B" motion picture director that started on short subjects. In 1929, Grinde directed Basil Rathbone, as detective fiction author S.S. Van Dine's, "Philo Vance", in
"The Bishop Murder Case". In 1931, he directed Joan Crawford and Neil Hamilton, in "This Modern Age". In 1936, the motion picture was "Public Enemy's Wife", starring Pat O'Brien, Margaret Lindsay, and Robert Armstrong. While in 1939, "King of Chinatown", starred Anna May Wong, Akin Tamiroff, and J. Carrol Naish.

Ann Dvorak portrayed "Kay Warren". Although she started acting at the age of four in the 1916 version of "Ramona". It was portraying Paul Muni's sister "Cesca" in director Howard Hawks', 1932, "Scarface", produced by Howard Hughes, that got the actress major attention. She followed the picture by co-starring in Hawks', 1932, "The Crowd Roars", with co-stars James Cagney and Joan Blondell. Then in 1932, the 19-years-old, Dvorak, eloped with her co-star in "The Strange Loves of Mollie Louvain", and took a year-long honeymoon, breaking her contract with "Warner Brothers" and her career nosedived into almost obscurity.

Helen Mack portrayed "Mickey". She followed this motion picture with a film about test pilots, 1941's, "Power Dive", co-starring with Richard Arlen and Jean Parker.

Lola Lane portrayed "Ellie". She was one of the acting "Lane Sisters", Leota, Rosemary, and the better known, youngest sister, Priscilla, 1939's, "The Roaring Twenties", starring James Cagney and Humphrey Bogart, director Alfred Hitchcock's, 1942, "Saboteur", and 1944's, "Arsenic and Old Lace".

While oldest sister, Lola, had been in "B" movies since 1929, she had just co-starred with Lloyd Nolan and Barton MacLane in 1940's, "Chicago". She followed this motion picture with a role in 1941's, "Four Mothers", starring Claude Rains, Jeffrey Lynn, and May Robson, featuring "The Lane Sisters", Priscilla, Rosemary, and Lola.

Above center, Lola Lane, her right, Ann Dvorak, her left, Marjorie Cooley portraying "Irene", lower right, Evelyn Young portraying "Sadie".

The story focuses on "Mickey" and "Kay", who is actually the privileged daughter of the governor, investigating the treatment of women forced to be on the road. There is just the hint of lesbianism with the character of "Ellie" at a camp for women, as the audience follows the women hobo's through different situations.

Also in 1940, Helen Mack married radio personality Thomas McAvity, and they would have two sons, John McAvity, and Thomas McAvity.

While filming the motion picture, "Power Dive", that was released on May 28, 1941, Helen Mack's career started to change and she ended her film career with just three other motion pictures into 1945.

On February 15, 1941, during childbirth, 28-years-old radio actress Donna Damerel died. Her mother was vaudevillian Myrtle Vail, who had started a radio program entitled "Myrt and Marge" in November 1931. Vail portrayed "Myrtle" and "Marge" was portrayed by Vail's daughter, Donna Damerel, and now a search for a replacement began. Helen Mack was chosen out of 200-applicants. The program would last into 1946. 

Helen Mack became one of the first women to break the glass ceiling of radio producing. With her husband, Tom McAvity, they produced "A Date with Judy", June 24, 1941 through May 4, 1950. Along with her friend and creator of the story, Aleen Leslie, Mack wrote scripts for the program. However, one other radio glass ceiling was broken by Helen Mack, she became one of the directors.

The following comes from the website "Radio Spirits", by Ivan G. Shreve, Jr., dated November 13th 2019:

While overseeing A Date with Judy, Helen Mack was also in charge of The Marlin Hurt and Beulah Show—a spin-off from Fibber McGee & Molly. With the untimely death of star Hurt, a situation comedy starring Agnes Moorehead, Calamity Jane, was the quick replacement (and was also supervised by Mack). Jane lasted three weeks before being nudged out by The Amazing Mrs. Danberry, a sitcom that also featured Aggie as star and Helen as director. (In this one, Moorehead played a widow who assumed responsibility for her late husband’s department store.) In the fall of 1946, Mack was the director on The Affairs of Ann Scotland—a crime drama (whose titular female character was described as a “private eyelash”) starring future What’s My Line? panelist Arlene Francis. After A Date with Judyforfeited its sponsor, Helen took over as director of Alan Young’s radio show. Throughout the 1940s, Helen Mack had a claim to fame as radio’s only female director…and she was good, too. Her work on Judy and Beulah netted her recognition from Radio Life in April of 1946 with one of their Distinguished Achievement Awards.
When radio was over taken by television, Helen Mack switched to that medium, but I could not locate any specifics. Except, there was a short lived, only three-episodes, 1955 series entitled, "His Honor Homer Bell", and she is shown as both a script writer, and story supervisor. Also, Helen Mack is shown as writing, uncredited, "Gossamer Wump", for the short lived television cartoon series, "Mel-O-Toons", in 1960.  

Thomas McAvity had passed away in 1974, and on August 13, 1986, at her friend, Aleen Leslie's home, Helen Mack passed away from cancer, she was 72.

HELEN MACK - Not Fay Wray - The Son - Not the King

Mention,  "The Eighth Wonder of the World",  and someone is going to mention Fay Wray, but what about "His Son"? Who was...