The National Lum and Abner Society
A Tribute to Louise Currie
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As reported on our home page, 1992 NLAS Convention
Guest Louise Currie passed away on September 8, 2013.
Below is a reprint of an article from the August 1992
issue of
The Jot 'Em Down Journal. Thanks to Tim Hollis
for scanning the original photos and OCR-generating
the text for this presentation.

Due to the wealth of photographs associated with the
original article, the captions for them will be inserted into
the article inside brackets. Vintage photos were supplied
to us by Louise Currie in 1992. Color images were
photographed by either Tim Hollis or Donnie Pitchford.
---------------------------------------
OH,
LOUISE!
THE CAREER OF
LOUISE CURRIE

   During Hollywood's golden age, when movies were
churned out on a weekly basis, it was possible to catch
a busy actor or actress appearing in dozens of films
within any given year. This holds true for the leading
lady of Lum and Abner's second motion picture for RKO,
The Bashful Bachelor (1942).
   Louise Currie Gunter was born in Oklahoma City,
Oklahoma, but after her graduation from high school she
quickly left the Midwest to attend colleges in New York
and Washington D.C. Then, in 1938 she decided to strike
out for Hollywood and perhaps try for a movie career.
   Now, this story could be made much more dramatic by
saying that Miss Currie (she decided to go by her middle
name) pounded the pavement for months, looking
fruitlessly for acting jobs and selling maps to the movie
stars' homes just to make a living. However, that would
be incorrect. Once in the movie capital, Louise found
herself inundated with movie offers... all strictly on the
basis of her not-inconsiderable good looks. Even
hardboiled Walter Winchell, after catching sight of her,
reported that "the most beautiful girl in the world" had
just arrived in California.
   [
Photo #1 proves Mr. Winchell was correct! NLAS
Executive Secretary Tim Hollis couldn't resist having it
signed by the lovely lady herself!
]
   Somewhat nonplused by all the attention, Louise
decided that she was going to make a fool out of herself
by taking roles before she had received the proper
training, so for two years she attended the famous Max
Reinhardt drama school and made her preparations.
After completing her formal dramatic training, she
plunged into movie making with a vengeance.
   For one reason or another, she was almost
immediately typecast as a Western heroine, beginning
with her first picture,
Billy The Kid, Outlaw (1940). She
says today that this casting suited her just fine, as she
had no desire to be "little Nell, hanging on the garden
gate waiting for Gene Autry to come along." Indeed, her
screen persona was frequently far removed from this
type of image; in
Gun Town (1946), she played the part
of "Buckskin," a stagecoach driver who was
responsible for rescuing the hero, Kirby Grant, via some
fancy work with a bullwhip. Even after she had moved
into other types of movies, she somehow kept returning
to the Western genre again and again, with such credits
as
Billy The Kid's Gun Justice (1940), The Pinto Kid
(1941),
Dude Cowboy (1941), Stardust on the Sage
(1942), and
Wild West (1946).
   Late in 1940, Louise began filming what would turn
out to be one of her best-remembered movies. This was
a 12-chapter Republic Pictures serial based on the
famous "Captain Marvel" comic books. In
The
Adventures of Captain Marvel
, Louise plays secretary
Betty Wallace, whose main function seems to be to get
into some dire predicament in every episode. Over half a
dozen times in the course of the story, Betty/Louise is
konked over the head and knocked out, but always
recovers with no ill effects. She also gets to prove once
again that she is no shrinking violet... in one scene, held
captive by the villains, she steels herself enough to grab
one of the crooks' guns and begin blazing away with it!
This ruse only serves to get her into further trouble, but
it was a valiant attempt anyway. Since the star of the
show is Captain Marvel, and not Wonder Woman, it is
always up to the flying superhero to save the day, so
perhaps Louise can be forgiven for getting herself into
so many tight spots.
   [
Photo #2: Louise clings to Tom Tyler, who appeared in
the title role of "The Adventures of Captain Marvel"
(1941). Photo #3: Louise is trapped in a shack on a
bombing range and the planes are coming; will Captain
Marvel rescue her? Come back next week and find out!!
]
   1941 was probably one of Louise's busiest years in
the movie industry, for during those twelve months she
appeared in more films than in any other year. She
lurked in the shadows in the finale of Orson Welles'
masterpiece
Citizen Kane, as one of the reporters taking
inventory of Charles Foster Kane's accumulation of
memorabilia; in
Look Who's Laughing, she shared the
screen briefly with Edgar Bergen, Charlie McCarthy, and
a young Lucille Ball; and in
The Reluctant Dragon, she
impersonated an employee of the Walt Disney Studios.
Her other output for that year, besides the Westerns
listed earlier, included
Hello Sucker, Orchids To Charlie,
Tillie the Toiler, Double Trouble
, and Bedtime Story.
Then came 1942, and she got her opportunity to become
an honorary citizen of Pine Ridge, Arkansas.
   [
Photo #4: L to R: Producer Jack Votion, Tuffy Goff,
Louise Currie, and Chet Lauck on the set of "The Bashful
Bachelor" (RKO Pictures, 1942).  Photo #5: Abner and
Marjorie do their best to cheer up reluctant groom Lum,
but a lot of good that does when the bride is Widder
Abernathy.
]
   Whereas Lum & Abner's first movie,
Dreaming Out
Loud
, had been cooked up by a team of Hollywood
screenwriters, their second feature was to be based on
an original story by Chet and Tuffy themselves
(although the final screenplay was credited to one
Chandler Sprague).
The Bashful Bachelor was to more
closely resemble the radio series than the first movie
had, and radio regulars Squire Skimp and Cedric
Weehunt were given prominent roles... although played
by professional actors, since it would have been difficult
for Lauck and Goff to recreate their characters in person
while performing the roles of L&A simultaneously. One
of the few deviations from the radio format was the
addition of Squire's beautiful niece Marjorie, and this
was the role in which producer Jack William Votion cast
Louise.
   [
Photo #6: Louise joins Lum and Abner on the fire
truck in a publicity shot for "The Bashful Bachelor"
(1942).
]
   The filming of
The Bashful Bachelor was something of
a circus in itself (an upcoming article in
The Jot 'Em
Down Journal
will delve deeper into that), but one
aspect of Louise's role as Marjorie did give her a reason
to pause. During all those Westerns she had made,
Louise had never quite learned to get along with horses,
and she was always relieved when one of her other
roles required no equestrian abilities. Imagine her
dismay when she discovered that Marjorie Skimp was to
be an expert horsewoman! She lived through the ordeal,
but sharp-eyed viewers might have noticed that she was
never shown actually mounting or dismounting the
horse's back.
   [
Photo #7: Oscar (Squire Skimp) O'Shea spins another
yarn to his niece Marjorie in a scene that does not appear
in the finished version of "The Bashful Bachelor."
]
   After
The Bashful Bachelor, Louise resumed her
frantic moviemaking pace, appearing in such widely
varying films as
The Ape Man (1943) and Voodoo Man
(1944) (both of which featured the sinister Bela Lugosi);
another Republic serial,
The Masked Marvel (1943); and
Million Dollar Kid (1944), with the Dead End Kids. She
was equally at home in dramas or comedies, but even in
the latter she was always the "straight man" of the
proceedings, never participating in the wild slapstick or
pratfalls of a comedienne. She did make a humorous
appearance in
Sensations of 1945, performing a skit with
W.C. Fields in what became Fields' final performance. In
the film, Louise managed to irritate the already-irritated
comedian with her activities as they tried to share a
compartment on a train.
   The main thing that bothered her about the movie
industry was the seeming waste of time involved. A
restless spirit by nature, she found herself increasingly
agitated by the constant waiting while movie scenes
were being prepared for filming, not to mention the
vacant spaces in between assignments. To relieve the
boredom, Louise began studying interior decorating.
She says that a few of her friends allowed her to practice
on their own homes, and they pronounced her efforts
excellent.   
   Louise finished up a few more films in the late 1940s,
among them one of her favorites,
Second Chance (1947),
but then decided that for all practical purposes she
would retire from films to pursue her decorating.
   While appearing on stage in Los Angeles in the play
All Women Are, Louise became acquainted with another
actor in the production, John Good. The pair were
married in 1948, and both took on the interior decorating
business as a full-time occupation. Louise had
completed such a backlog of films before her retirement
that the studios were able to keep releasing new product
containing her appearances all the way through 1951.
   In the years following her departure from the silver
screen, Louise carved out quite a comfortable niche in
the decorating world. Basically the only time her film
career ever intruded upon this new lifestyle was when
she would be asked to appear at various nostalgia film
festivals to reminisce. In June 1992 she and John
traveled to Mena, Arkansas, for the 50th anniversary of
The Bashful Bachelor, and Louise was presented with
the Lum and Abner Memorial Award for her work with
the old fellows. Then it was back to decorating for
Louise Currie Good, until some future date when her
former work again comes into her life!
   [
Photo #8: At the 1992 NLAS Convention in Mena,
Louise poses with a vintage 1942 three-sheet poster for
her work with L&A.  Photo #9: At the close of "The
Bashful Bachelor," Squire Skimp agrees to pay for
Marjorie's course of study at art school. 50 years later,
"Marjorie" comes back to Pine Ridge as a successful
interior decorator! Wonderful World!  Photo #10: Singin'
Sam Brown, Louise Currie, and Mousey Tim Hollis
prepare to unveil the NLAS's new (1992) exhibit at the
Mena railroad depot.
]

                                                     -Tim Hollis / NLAS / 1992
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National Lum and Abner Society "Ossifers"
Sam Brown, Tim Hollis, and Donnie Pitchford.