Mary Carlisle

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Mary Carlisle
Mary Carlisle.jpg
BornGwendolyn Witter
(1914-02-03) February 3, 1914 (age 100)
Boston, Massachusetts, U.S.[a]
Years active1923–1943
Spouse(s)James Blakeley
(1942–2007; his death); 1 child
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Mary Carlisle
Mary Carlisle.jpg
BornGwendolyn Witter
(1914-02-03) February 3, 1914 (age 100)
Boston, Massachusetts, U.S.[a]
Years active1923–1943
Spouse(s)James Blakeley
(1942–2007; his death); 1 child

Mary Carlisle (born Gwendolyn Witter on February 3, 1914) is a retired American actress and singer. Born in Boston, Massachusetts, she starred in several Hollywood films in the 1930s, having been one of fifteen girls selected as "WAMPAS Baby Stars" in 1932.



Mary Carlisle was born as Gwendolyn Witter on February 3, 1914[1] in Back Bay, Boston.[2] Her mother was Leona Ella Witter.[3] Being born into a religious family, she was educated in a convent in Boston.[4] Her father died when she was four years old.[5] Leona Witter later remarried, to industrialist Henry J. Kaiser.[6] Carlisle and her mother then relocated to Los Angeles, where her uncle lived. He gave her the opportunity to appear in the Jackie Coogan vehicle Long Live the King in 1923. She was uncredited.[2]

Carlisle was discovered by studio executive Carl Laemmle, Jr. at the age of 14 when she was eating lunch with her mother at the Universal Studios commissionary. Praising her angelic looks, he offered her a screen test. Though she passed the test and started doing extra work at Universal, she was stopped by a welfare officer who noted that she was underaged and had to finish school first.[5]

After completing her education two years later, she headed to the Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer studio for work in movies. The casting director asked if she could dance; when she replied that she could, he arranged for an audition to take place two days later. Carlisle, who had lied about her good dancing abilities, took a one-day basic tap dancing lesson. She signed a one-year contract with MGM[4] in 1930 and was used as a back-up dancer.[5]

In the beginning of her movie career, she had small parts in movies such as Madam Satan and Passion Flower. She also had a role in Grand Hotel in 1932.[4] She gained recognition when she was selected as one of the WAMPAS Baby Stars (young actresses believed to be on their way to stardom) in 1932.[7] Her major acting break came when Paramount Studios loaned her for the movie College Humor, where she played opposite Bing Crosby. The performance was critically acclaimed and she later went on making two more movies with him: Double or Nothing and Doctor Rhythm.[8] She continued working for different studios, mainly in B-movies as a leading lady.

Marriage and retirement[edit]

Carlisle married actor James Edward Blakeley (1910-2007) on March 14, 1942,[9] who later became an executive producer at 20th Century-Fox. Carlisle retired from films shortly after getting married. The couple had one child during their nearly 65-year marriage. In her later life, she was in charge of the Elizabeth Arden Salon in Beverly Hills, California.[6]

On February 8, 1960, aged 46, she received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.[10] With the deaths of Gloria Stuart and Barbara Kent, Carlisle became the only surviving "WAMPAS Baby Star".[7]

Carlisle is the model for the heroine, Starshine Hart, in Jacob Appel's novel, The Biology of Luck (2013).[11]


1923Long Live The KingBit role (uncredited)
1930The Girl Said NoParty guest
Montana MoonParty girl
Children of PleasureSecretary
Madam SatanLittle Bo Peep
Passion FlowerBlonde party guest
Remote ControlYoung blonde violinist
The Devil's Cabaret (short)Impy
1931The Great LoverBlonde autograph seeker
1932This Reckless AgeCassandra Phelps
Hotel ContinentalAlicia
Grand HotelMrs. Hoffman
Night CourtElizabeth Osgood
Ship A Hooey
Down to EarthJackie Harper
Smilin' ThroughYoung party guest
Her Mad NightConstance 'Connie' Kennedy
1933Men Must FightEvelyn
College HumorBarbara Shirrel
Ladies Must LoveSally Lou Cateret
Saturday's MillionsThelma Springer
The Sweetheart of Sigma ChiVivian
East of Fifth AvenueEdna Howard
Should Ladies BehaveLeone Merrick
1934PalookaAnne Howe
This Side of HeavenPeggy Turner
Once to Every WomanDoris Andros
Murder in the Private CarRuth
Handy AndyJanice Yates
Million Dollar RansomFrancesca Shelton
That's GratitudeDora Maxwell
Kentucky KernelsGloria
Girl o' My DreamsGwen
1935Grand Old GirlGerry Killaine
The Great Hotel MurderOlive Temple
One Frightened NightDoris Waverly
Champagne for BreakfastEdie Reach
The Old HomesteadNancy Abbott
It's in the AirGrace Gridley
Super-SpeedNan Gale
Kind LadyPhyllis
1936Love in ExileEmily Stewart
Lady Be CarefulBillie 'Stonewall' Jackson
1937Hotel HaywirePhyllis
Double or NothingVicki Clark
Hold 'Em NavyJudy Hollan
1938Tip-Off GirlsMarjorie Rogers
Dr. RhythmJudy Marlowe
Hunted MenJane Harris
Touchdown, ArmyToni Denby
Illegal TrafficCarol Butler
Say It in FrenchPhyllis Carrington
1939Fighting ThoroughbredsMarian
Inside InformationCrystal
Hawaiian NightsMillie
Beware Spooks!Betty Lou Winters Gifford
Call a MessengerMarge Hogan
Rovin' TumbleweedsMary Ford
1940Dance, Girl, DanceSally
1941Rags to RichesCarol Patrick
1942Torpedo BoatJane Townsend
Baby Face MorganVirginia Clark
1943Dead Men WalkGayle Clayton

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "California, Birth Index, February 3, 1914". Retrieved February 9, 2014. 
  2. ^ a b "Mary didn't need an agent". Eugene Register-Guard, June 11, 1939. Retrieved February 25, 2014. 
  3. ^ "New York, New York Passenger and Crew Lists, March 16, 1936". Retrieved February 9, 2014. 
  4. ^ a b c "Minute biographies: Mary Carlisle". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, March 20, 1933. Retrieved February 24, 2014. 
  5. ^ a b c "Mary Carlisle sets record! Opposite Bing Crosby second time". Ottawa Citizen, May 29, 1937. Retrieved February 24, 2014. 
  6. ^ a b "Mary Carlisle". The New York Times. Retrieved February 28, 2014. 
  7. ^ a b Wollstein, Hans J. (2000–2001). "The WAMPAS Baby Stars". The Old Corral at 
  8. ^ "Eddie Cantor picks Mary Carlisle as lead". The Milwaukee Sentinel, July 3, 1933. Retrieved February 24, 2014. 
  9. ^ "Florida, Marriages, March 14, 1942". Retrieved February 28, 2014. 
  10. ^ "Mary Carlisle - Inducted to the Walk of Fame on February 8, 1960". walkoffame. Retrieved June 16, 2013. 
  11. ^ Appel, Jacob. Phoning Home. U of SC Press, 2014

a^ Her birth record indicates Los Angeles as place of birth

External links[edit]