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Iris Lancaster
Full name: Iris Idele Lancaster
1915-2001



(Courtesy of Minard Coons)

Above are prolific baddie Jack Ingram and Iris Lancaster in a scene from RIDIN' THE TRAIL (1940), one of the singing cowboy adventures starring Fred Scott.



Above are John Wayne and Iris Lancaster (as bad girl "Marie LaFleur") in a screen capture from Wayne's THE TRAIL BEYOND (Lone Star/Monogram, 1934). Blonde Verna Hillie was the heroine in this film.
A decade or so ago, I ran the above photo asking for help in identifying this mystery lady. There was a suggestion she may be Iris Lancaster and the photo might be from RIDIN' THE TRAIL, a Fred Scott / Spectrum film ... and that wound up being correct.

Boyd Magers had the RIDIN' THE TRAIL epic, and he ran it for me to confirm or deny the identity of this range heroine. Boyd's e-mail reads: "A match. It is Iris Lancaster. Same girl, same outfit. Awful movie."

RIDIN' THE TRAIL was one of the Spectrum films that singing cowboy Fred Scott made in the late 1930s. It wound up being released by independent distributor Arthur Ziehm in 1940, which was a year or so after Spectrum folded.

Iris appeared in about a dozen films scattered over a ten year period from 1933-1944. Her only other western was John Wayne's THE TRAIL BEYOND (Lone Star/Monogram, 1934) which had Verna Hillie as the heroine. In BEYOND, Iris has some dialog and screen time as bad girl "Marie LaFleur" who's in cahoots with no goods Robert Frazer and Earl Dwire.

There's a few traces of information on her in the census records, newspapers, trade publications, etc.:

  Although some of the data is incomplete or inaccurate, the Internet Movie Database (IMDb) has information on Iris Lancaster: http://us.imdb.com/name/nm0484138/

Family Search (free), Ancestry.com (subscription), Newspaper Archive (subscription), Social Security Death Index (SSDI) and other sources provide more on Iris Lancaster and family:

Newspaper, tradepaper, and other mentions:

1935 color photo of Iris and Colin Clive. There's color and B&W versions of this photo. Sources have them dining at either the Brown Derby nightclub or the roof of the Hollywood Tower apartment building: https://oldhollywoodincolor.com/category/on-the-set-with-colin-clive/





 

Sheila Darcy / Rebecca Wassem
Real name: Rebecca Benedict Heffener
1914 - 2004



(Courtesy of Minard Coons)

Above from left to right are Max 'Alibi' Terhune, John Elliott, John 'Dusty' King, Sheila Darcy and Ray 'Crash' Corrigan in a scene from TUMBLEDOWN RANCH IN ARIZONA (Monogram, 1941), one of the Range Busters' series.


For fans of serials and westerns, Sheila Darcy (1914 - 2004) is best remembered because of her work in two cliffhangers: she was "Volita", the female lead in ZORRO'S FIGHTING LEGION (Republic, 1939) and the "Dragon Lady" in TERRY AND THE PIRATES (Columbia, 1940).

According to family trees on Ancestry.com, she was born Rebecca Benedict Heffener in York, Pennsylvania. At around age 5, Sheila moved with her mother and an aunt to Los Angeles after her parents separated. Her mother re-married to Wilbur Joseph Wassem.

Her movie career was brief - she did about 45 films from the mid 1930s to the early 1940s, and many of her roles were unbilled. In her early movie work, she was known as Rebecca Wassem. Les Adams has Sheila identified in a half dozen westerns and two cliffhangers.

There are traces of Rebecca / Sheila in tradezines and a few examples are below:

There were two marriages. Her first was to Erich Von Stroheim, Jr. in Los Angeles on May 28, 1943. Newspaper reports indicate they divorced in late 1945 - early 1946 in Las Vegas. She married movie star Preston Foster (1900-1970) on April 2, 1946, and they were together through his death in 1970.

Sheila passed away on February 20, 2004.

  Although some of the data is incomplete or inaccurate, the Internet Movie Database (IMDb) has information on Sheila Darcy / Rebecca Wassem: http://us.imdb.com/name/nm0201057/

Family Search (free), Ancestry.com (subscription), California Death Index, Social Security Death Index (SSDI), trade papers and other sources have info on Sheila and family:

Jim Tipton's Find A Grave website has a photo of the markers for Sheila and husband Preston Foster who are interred at El Camino Memorial Park, San Diego, California: http://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GRid=8485548



(Courtesy of Les Adams)
Left is a pressbook ad for Buster Crabbe's JUNGLE MAN (PRC, 1941) which featured Sheila Darcy as the female lead.

Boring and chock full of stock footage, the only redeeming value is that Crabbe is reunited with Charles Middleton who was 'Ming' in the Flash Gordon chapterplays ... but this mess was a big step down for both actors.



(From Old Corral image collection)

Above - a lobby card from TUMBLEDOWN RANCH IN ARIZONA (Monogram, 1941) showing John Elliott, John King, Sheila Darcy and Ray Corrigan. Appears that King isn't happy with Corrigan's interest in Sheila.

Here's a mystery for you - there's a bunch of these type lobby cards in circulation. But there is no Monogram brand name or logo. They have a common layout showing Corrigan and his twin six-shooters on the left side, and the only variation is the colors that are used (black plus a couple other colors). An approximate 6 1/2 inch x 8 1/2 inch scene still is glued on the card stock. Les Adams recalled that a company in Oklahoma circa 1935-1942 made up their own posters and cards and rented/leased them to theatres cheaper than the exhibitors could get them from National Screen Service or the company exchanges.



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