The problem with being a "Child Actress", or "Actor", is that you're always thought of as a "Child". Just ask the "U.S. Department of State's, Chief of United States Protocol", Shirley Temple Black.
Charlotte Henry would appear in two classic 1930's Fantasy Films. Which are still as enjoyable today as back when they were made.
Charlotte Virginia Henry was born on March 3, 1914, in Brooklyn, New York. Her parents were, Robert Emmett Henry and Charlotte Ann Sayers Henry. Charlotte started modeling as a baby and at the age of five, first appeared on the legitimate stage. However, at 13 years of age, she surprised her parents, by getting a role in the 1928 Broadway production of playwright Tom Barry's, "Courage". Which was about a now single mother raising her eight children.
In 1929, Charlotte and her mother came to Hollywood. She would be enrolled in the "Lawlor Professional School", at the time, located at 5402 Hollywood Boulevard. The move from New York had been made, so that the young actress could appear in the motion picture version of her hit Broadway play.
However, this is where a little confusion comes in about Charlotte Henry's first motion picture.
Most biographies list the filmed version of, "Courage", as her first motion picture. In which, 7th billed, Charlotte, recreated her stage role of "Gwendolyn Colbrook". Technically that's correct, but the movie was filmed in 1929 and not released until May 22, 1930. However, there is the overlooked, "Harmony at Home", with 3rd billed, Charlotte Henry, that was released five months earlier, on January 12, 1930. Which makes that feature film her actual first on-screen appearance!
Some biographies short-cut Charlotte Henry's motion picture appearances and give the impression she wasn't working in films as much as had been. Here's a direct quote from the website, "Alice In Wonderland Wiki":
Junior Dunkin, who had worked with her in Courage, suggested Charlotte for a play he was appearing in at the Pasadena playhouse. By then, she had appeared in two more feature films: Huckleberry Finn in 1931 and Lena Rivers in 1932.
Anyone unfamiliar with Charlotte Henry's film career would take the above quote at its word. However, between "Courage" and "Huckleberry Finn", there was her role as "Belle", in the 1930 drama, "On Your Back". While, between "Huckleberry Finn" and "Lena Rivers", there were three other motion pictures.
The first of those three, was the small role of a "Pioneer Girl", in the 1931 version, of the Sinclair Lewis novel, "Arrowsmith". That major motion picture starred Ronald Colman and Helen Hayes and was Directed by John Ford. The second, was 7th billing as "Roberta-age 18", in Director Frank Capra's, 1932, "Forbidden", starring Barbara Stanwyck. Adolphe Menjou and Ralph Bellamy. While, her third role was a 1932, Horror film, starring Bela Lugosi and Leon Ames. It was based upon Edgar Allan Poe's "Murders in the Rue Morgue". Below, lower right corner, is Charlotte Henry as "The Blonde Girl in the Sideshow audience". A small role, none the less, an on-screen appearance that should be credited and not skipped to the young actress.
So, what about "Huckleberry Finn" and "Lena Rivers"?
HUCKLEBERRY FINN released on August 1, 1931.
1931's "Huckleberry Finn" was the sequel, as was the original Mark Twain novel, in this case, to the 1930 motion picture version of "Tom Sawyer". Both "Paramount Pictures" featured the same three leads.
Jackie Coogan portrayed "Tom Sawyer". Coogan had been the co-star and title character in Charlie Chaplin's, 1921, silent classic, "The Kid". In 1935, his mother and stepfather controlled all of Jackie's income going back to 1917 and refused to give him any part. He had to sue them to get his own money, before they spent it all. His action, resulted in the State of California's "Child's Actors Bill", protecting the money they made as minors.
Junior Dunkin portrayed "Huckleberry Finn". Besides working with Charlotte in both the stage and film versions of "Courage". He was another school classmate. Dunkin's career and life were cut short by a fatal car accident with a wrong way, head-on, driver. The car was being driven by Junior's close friend, Jackie Coogan's real father, and rolled over into a ravine seven times. Killed, besides Dunkin, were Jackie Coogan, Sr., actor-writer Robert J. Horner, and the Coogan San Diego ranch foreman, Charles Jones. The only survivor was Jackie Coogan, who had not been thrown from the car.
Mitzi Green portrayed "Becky Thatcher". Like her two other co-stars and Charlotte Henry, Mitzi started acting at an extremely young age with her Vaudeville Parents. Her film career was failing by the age of 14 and she would turn to the legitimate stage. Green would re-emerge in motion pictures with 1952's, "Abbott and Costello Lost in Alaska".
Above, Jackie Coogan, Mitzi Green and Junior Dunkin.
Charlotte Henry was 11th billed as "Mary Jane Wilks". In the actual Mark Twain novel, it is "Mary Jane", the oldest of the "Wilks" sisters. That the "Duke" and the "King" are attempting to swindle after their father dies. In the novel and the motion picture, "Huck" falls in love with her.
Above, Junior Dunkin and Charlotte Henry. Below, Charlotte Henry, Junior Dunkin and Jackie Cooper.
The very melodramatic story has Charlotte Henry portraying the title role of "Lena Rivers". The screenplay was based upon a 1856 novel that had been filmed several times during the silent era.
While, "Mathilda's" daughter, considers "Lena" below her station and won't socialize with her. All contributing to making the teenage girl feel like an outcast.
However, there is a neighbor, "Mr. Graham", played by James Kirkwood, who raises horses. The two come together over "Lena's" love for horses and her riding ability. Since she first knew of her out of wedlock birth, "Lena" has grown to hate the father she never knew. In the end, "Mr. Graham" is her real father and the two come together in a happy ending.
However, from the above newspaper ad calling Charlotte Henry the:
New Screen SensationThe actress found herself next portraying, "Emma Jane", without on-screen credit, in the "Family Film", "REBECCA OF SUNNYBROOK FARM", released on July 3, 1932, and based upon the 1903 classic children's book by Kate Douglas Wiggin.
"Emma Jane" would be followed with a "Undetermined Secondary Role", in "Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer's", big budgeted, 1932, "RASPUTIN AND THE EMPRESS". That starred Lionel, Ethel and John Barrymore in the only film all three siblings appeared together.
Next, for the "New Screen Sensation" was an "RKO Pictures" mystery co-starring with Junior Dunkin.
MAN HUNT released on May 24, 1933.
The story had Dunkin and Henry solve a jewelry robbery no one else could.
At the end of the year Charlotte Henry found herself in the title role of a major big budgeted, All-Star, motion picture from "Paramount Pictures".
ALICE IN WONDERLAND released on December 22, 1933.
The screenplay was based upon both works by author Lewis Carroll, leaning more heavily on the second. These are, "Alice's Adventures in Wonderland", and "Through the Looking Glass".
The screenplay was by two interesting writers.
Over his career, Joseph L, Mankiewicz, was nominated for Ten Academy Awards and won four of them for two motion pictures. In each case, one Oscar was for his Directing and the other for his Screenplay writing. The movies were 1949's, "A Letter to Three Wives", starring Jeanne Crain, Linda Darnell, and Ann Sothern, and 1950's, "All About Eve", starring Bette Davis, Anne Baxter, George Sanders and Celeste Holm. Two others of Mankiewicz's screenplays are the 1955 musical, "Guys and Dolls", starring Marlon Brando, Frank Sinatra and Jean Simmons, and 1963's, "Cleopatra", starring Elizabeth Taylor, Richard Burton and Rex Harrison.
Although, this is the only screenplay by William Cameron Menzies. He was one of the uncredited Directors on 1939's, "Gone with the Wind", but is known to science fiction fans for two motion pictures he Directed. These are, 1936's, "Things to Come", with one of only two screenplays written by British author H.G. Wells, and, 1953's, "Invaders from Mars".
William Cameron Menzies was also the Art Designer for "Alice in Wonderland". As he was for 1936's, "Things to Come", and 1953's, "Invaders from Mars".
The make-up and masks were by Wally Westmore, one of the six Westmore brothers. Among his work was the Frederick March Oscar winning make-up for 1931's, "Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde", and the Charles Laughton and Bela Lugosi, 1932, "Island of Lost Souls. Which was based upon H.G. Wells', the "Island of Dr. Moreau",
There were three Directors on this feature film. The live action was Directed by Norman Z. McLeod. McLeod Directed the Marx Brothers, Groucho, Chico, Harpo and Zeppo, in 1931's, "Monkey Business", and 1932's, "Horse Feathers", prior to this feature.
The animation sequences were from the team of Hugh Harmon and Rudolf Isling. They did this animation between the two working for Walt Disney and switching to Warner Brothers.
Below Some of the Inhabitants of Wonderland as Envisioned by Menzies and Westmore:
Another Box Office factor faced by "Paramount Studios" was that the motion picture was banned in China causing a major loss of Box Office. Their censors claimed the motion picture came under the country's category of "Superstitious and Strangeness" films. This research was made by Zhang Yinglin, for his work, "Cinema and Urban Culture in Shanghi, 1922-1923", published in 1999 by the "Stanford University Press".
A final look at Charlotte Henry as "Alice".
The motion picture starred distinguished British actor, George Arliss, as "Cabot Barr". The actor had portrayed British Prime Minister, "Benjamin Disraeli", on stage and in two motion pictures, that last in 1929, and "Alexander Hamilton" in 1931. In 1933, Arliss portrayed French philosopher and writer, "Voltaire" and in, 1934, the actor portrayed the head of the banking family in "The House of Rothchild". He co-starred with Loretta Young, Boris Karloff in a non-Horror role, and Robert Young. George Arliss would return to biographical motion pictures after "The Last Gentleman", with 1935's, "Cardinal Richelieu". The actor would end his film career in 1937, with a tale of a real-life British "Robin Hood", "Dr. Syn", known as "The Scarecrow".
Above, George Arliss and Charlotte Henry as "Marjorie Barr".
The Director was Sidney Lanfield, the 1939, Basil Rathbone and Nigel Bruce version of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's. "The Hound of the Baskervilles". Back in 1935, it was Clark Gable, Loretta Young and Jack Oakie, in a version of Jack London's "Call of the Wild".
"Cabot Barr's" niece has been missing and presumed dead. He calls his family and certain others to his mansion to discuss his will. Throughout the story he torments different family members including his own son "Judd", played by Ralph Meeks. "Judd" had attempted to declare "Cabot" insane as a means to inherit the majority of his father's money and property.
To "Judd's" relief, "Cabot Barr" now dies from the shock of hearing what his son wanted to do.
The entire family of fortune hunters, not including "Marjorie", are assembled to watch a short movie that "Cabot" put together. He appears on film and begins by telling everyone that he has cut-off "Judd" from receiving anything and proceeds to tell everyone what they're getting, or not getting. Then, as the assembled group realizes that the majority of "Cabot Barr's" fortune is still unmentioned. He informs his viewers that it's all going to "Marjorie".
There's really nothing great here, but the motion picture had a gimmick to lure the audience to the picture. It was one that "Thriller Master William Castle" would use himself. "United Artists", the studio behind the film, required that theater owners post a notice and agree that:
No one is to be seated during the last ten minutes of the motion picture.
The second forgotten feature was entitled "The Human Side", but all I could find out is that the picture was about divorced theatrical producer, "Gregory Sheldon", played by Adolphe Menjou, his ex-wife, "Vera Sheldon", played by Doris Kenyon, and their children. The oldest, "Lucille", was played by Charlotte Henry.
BABES IN TOYLAND previewed on November 9, 1934 in Los Angeles.
The source of this Hal Roach, Sr. production was Victor Herbert's, 1903, operetta, "Babes in Toyland".
1 1/2 Hours of Laughter
That's interesting, because when the motion picture was originally released as "Babes in Toyland", on November 30, 1934. The running time was only 78-minutes and not 90-minutes. Perhaps, that 12-minutes, if this wasn't just a publicity department screw up, of a longer running time was only at the Los Angeles, California, preview, and the feature shorten, because of audience reaction? I looked for any mention, other than on the above poster, of a one and one-half hour running time and could not locate anything.
While speaking to the film's running time. In 1950, Producer Robert L. Lippert was able to release, a non-copyrighted version of the motion picture, at a running time of 73-minutes, under the title, "March of the Wooden Soldiers". However, the following poster adds further confusion to the running time issue. As it states the Lippert film was only 70-minutes, but it is also possible that publicity departments were just rounding up, or down figures.
Gus Meins directed a series of comedy shorts between 1925 and 1927. These were with the "Brown Shoe Company's" trademarked characters of, "Buster Brown" and his bulldog "Tige". "Babes in Toyland" was Meins' only feature length film between 1922 and 1936.
Charley Rogers was also a actor and started in 1912 playing "The Artful Dodger" in a version of author Charles Dickens', "Oliver Twist". As a director he began in 1929 on short subjects. "Babes in Toyland" was also his first feature and his second and last was Laurel and Hardy's, 1936, "The Bohemian Girl".
Frank Butler worked on both shorts and screenplays for Laurel and Hardy. He would write all the Bing Crosby, Bob Hope and Dorothy Lamour "Road" pictures. He also wrote the World War 2 screenplay for, 1942's, "Wake Island", the Alan Ladd Western Detective film, 1948's, "Whispering Smith".
Nick Grinde was a "B" feature writer that no one remembers, or his motion pictures. Yet, during the 1930's the first half of the 1940's, these were the one's enjoyed on Saturday matinees. With titles like, 1936's, "Public Enemy's Wife", starring Pat O'Brien and Robert Armstong, 1939's, crime film, "King of Chinatown", starring Anna May Wong, Akim Tamiroff and J. Carrol Naish and 1940's, "Girls of the Road", starring Ann Dvorak and Helen Mack.
Stan Laurel worked upon the screenplay without credit.
Anna Alice Chapin, who had passed away in 1920, was mentioned, but uncredited for writing the libretto for the 1903-1904, stage production. She would also receive the same mention for the Walt Disney, 1961, version.
Although the posters gave Stan and Ollie first and second billings. In actuality they were sixth and seventh billed on the official cast listing.
The Official Cast Listings:
Virginia Karns portrayed "Mother Goose". Karns had only four credits and the three that proceeded this motion picture were musical shorts.
Florence Roberts portrayed the "Widow Peep". Between 1917 and 1940, Roberts appeared on-screen in 40 different roles. Among those roles, was the 1933 comedy, "Make Me a Star", starring Joan Blondel, Stu Erwin and Zasu Pitts. Roberts was part of the large cast of the 1935, Frederick March and Charles Laughton version of Victor Hugo's, "Les Miserables", and was also seen in the Paul Muni and Gale Sondergarrd, 1937, "The Life of Emile Zola".
Henry Brandon portrayed "Barnaby Barnicle". Although known for his villain's, such as "Dr. Fu Manchu", Brandon played other more sympathetic roles. In 1948, he had been in the cast of John Wayne's, "The Wake of the Red Witch", and in 1956 he portrayed "Scar/Cicatrix", in John Ford's "The Searchers", starring Wayne and Jeffrey Hunter
Stan Laurel portrayed "Stannie Dum". For those unfamiliar with Stan's work prior to teaming with Ollie officially in 1927. At one point, prior to his film career, Stan Laurel was an understudy for Charlie Chaplain in the U.K. They were both part of the acting troop known as "Fred Karno's Army".
Olivier Hardy portrayed "Ollie Dee". Over their career together, "Laurel and Hardy" appeared 105 times together in short, feature films and cameo roles. Ollie started his motion picture career as a projectionist in his hometown. In 1914, after moving to Florida and being near the motion picture industry there. Oliver Hardy made his first comedy short, "Outwitting Dad", and started on his career billed as "Babe Hardy", below.
The original score for Victor Herbert's operetta contains 22 musical numbers, but this feature film only retained six of them. When Walt Disney finally made and released his. 1961, "Babes in Toyland", starring Annette Funicello and Tommy Sands. That motion picture used 14 of Herbert's songs in it and one original song.
The first two come from a friendship between Walt Disney and Stan and Ollie.
In the film, a companion of the Cat and the Fiddle was a familiar little mouse in button-front shorts and white gloves (the “actor” in the Mickey Mouse costume was actually a trained capuchin monkey), and the inhabitants of Toyland include Disney’s Three Little Pigs, who were at the height of their public popularity—an instrumental version of “Who’s Afraid of the Big Bad Wolf” from the 1933 Silly Symphony short was also heard in the musical score.Walt Disney's College of Knowledge: Unexpected Walt Disney | Oh My Disney
Summer Getchell portrayed "Little Jack Horner", who does get to sit in his corner several times.
"Stannie" and "Ollie" work for the toy maker and when "Santa Claus", played by Ferdinand Munier, visits to put in his order for Christmas. Later, the boys will reverse one of "Santa's" items and create 100 six-feet-tall "Wooden Soldiers", instead of 600 one-foot-tall as ordered.
"Barnaby" lifts the veil and it's "Stannie" he married. The enraged "Barnaby" now seeks revenge by framing "Bo-Peep's" boyfriend for "pignapping". He does this by abducting "Little Elmer Pig" and having his henchman plant clues, including sausage links, in "Tom-Tom's" house. This will result in "Tom-Tom" being banished to "Bogeyland".
The four make it back to "Toyland", but "Barnaby" lets loose the " Bogeymen" to attack the nursey rhyme town. When the Toyland residents are overwhelmed, "Stannie" and "Ollie" let loose the Wooden Soldiers and we have one of Victor Herbert's most famous musical pieces, "The March of the Wooden Soldiers". Which is done with both live actors and stop-motion animation.
Of course, "Barnaby" is defeated, the " Bogeymen" return to " Bogeyland", and "Bo-Peep" and "Tom-Tom" are to be married.
Between 1934's, "Babes in Toyland" to her last feature film, 1942's, "I Live On Danger", Charlotte Henry's career consisted of just 15 "B" motion pictures.
Among these was the 1935, social drama, "Forbidden Heaven", in which she co-starred with Charles Farrell, a popular leading man during the silent film era.
Henry had fourth billing in "Republic Pictures", Civil War drama, "Hearts in Bondage", co-starring with, James Dunn, the 1934, Shirley Temple film, "Bright Eyes", Mae Clarke, "Elisabeth" in 1931's, "Frankenstein", and David Manners, "John Harker" in 1931's, "Dracula".
Another fourth billing role was as "Mlle. Kitty", in 1936's, "Charlie Chan at the Opera". Which starred Swedish actor, Warner Oland, as the Hawaiian-Chinese-American Detective and Boris Karloff as the escaped maniac.
The 15 Chapter serial was so popular, "Columbia Pictures", had it turned into a novel.
Frank "Bring Them Back Alive" Buck portrayed "Frank Hardy". Charlotte Henry portrayed "Dorothy Elliott".
The story has Buck intervening in an attempt, in the fictional Asian country of "Seemang", to run a rubber plantation owner, "Chandler Elliott", played by John St.Pollis, and his daughter, "Dorothy", played by Charlotte Henry, off their land. Behind the attempt is the plantation manager, "Jim Murphy", played by LeRoy Mason. In typical Chapter Serial fashion, this simple plot is stretched over the entire length of the cliff-hanger. As a subplot, "Dorothy Elliott" is engaged to neighboring rubber plantation owner, "Tom Banning", played by William Bakewell.
Charlotte Henry appeared in "Monogram Pictures". 1937, "B" Western, "God's Country and the Man", starring Tom Keene.
And for you ladies wanting something new and fashionable. There's the:
The three most recognizable names were, Leo Gorcey, Bobby Jordon, and Huntz Hall. Others might come and go throughout the series, except for Jordon who was never a "Bowery Boy", Gorcey and Hall held court.
The motion picture was 1941's, "Bowery Blitzkrieg", Charlotte Henry portrayed "Mary Breslin", at fifth billing, behind Leo Gorcey, Bobby Jordan, Huntz Hull and actor William Hull as "Tom Brady".
Hull was a star in Cliff-Hangers, he was the detective known as "The Spider", in 1938's, "The Spider's Web", the radio hero, "Mandrake the Magician", in 1939, and in 1940, Hull was the first to play, "Britt Reid", aka:, "The Green Hornet".
Below, Charlotte Henry and Warren Hull.
After which, she moved from Los Angeles to San Diego and became the secretary, for 15 years, to the Roman Catholic Bishop of San Diego.
Charlotte Henry would pass away on April 11, 1960 from cancer. Sometime during those years, she had married Dr. James A. Dempsey, but the two had no children.