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The WAMPAS Baby Stars


Special thanks to 'guest commentator' Hans J. Wollstein for the following narrative and background info on the WAMPAS baby stars.  Hans is a former actor turned entertainment writer. His first book, Strangers in Hollywood (Scarecrow Press, 1994) was followed by Vixens, Floozies and Molls (McFarland, 1999). An associate editor of the All-Movie Guide, he has contributed more than 3000 essays, mainly on silent films, early talkies and Westerns. After many years in the US, Hans now resides in a 200 year old country cottage near his hometown of Copenhagen, Denmark. Hans' e-mail address is: hwollstein@yahoo.dk


The WAMPAS Baby Stars, a yearly selection of 13 promising starlets, was made by The Western Association of Motion Picture Advertisers. The chosen lucky thirteen were formally introduced at a coming-out party, known as the Frolic, an event covered by the media much like today's Academy Award ceremonies. Among the list are some Hollywood big names including Joan Crawford, Fay Wray, Janet Gaynor, Loretta Young and Clara Bow. Sprinkled among the winners were also a number of actresses who did heroine duty in B westerns and serials --- included are Marion Shilling, Evalyn Knapp, Carmelita Geraghty and Jean Carmen (Julia Thayer).

Years and winners are as follows:

1922: Maryon Aye, Helen Ferguson, Lila Lee, Jacqueline Logan, Louise Lorraine, Bessie Love, Kathryn McGuire, Patsy Ruth Miller, Colleen Moore, Mary Philbin, Pauline Starke, Lois Wilson, Claire Windsor

1923: Eleanor Boardman, Evelyn Brent, Dorothy Devore, Virginia Browne Faire, Betty Francisco, Pauline Garon, Kathleen Key, Laura La Plante, Margaret Leahy, Helen Lynch, Derelys Perdue, Jobyna Ralston, Ethel Shannon

1924: Clara Bow, Elinor Fair, Carmelita Geraghty, Gloria Grey, Ruth Hiatt, Julanne Johnston, Hazel Keener (alias Barbara Worth), Dorothy Mackaill, Blanche Mehaffey (alias Joan Alden and Janet Morgan), Margaret Morris, Marian Nixon, Lucille Ricksen, Alberta Vaughn

1925: Betty Arlen (the only "Baby" who apparently never made a movie), Violet Avon (alias Violet La Plante), Olive Borden, Anne Cornwall, Ena Gregory (alias Marian Douglas), Madeline Hurlock, Natalie Joyce, June Marlowe, Joan Meredith (alias Catherine Jelks), Evelyn Pierce, Dorothy Revier, Duane Thompson, Lola Todd

1926 (WAMPAS' great year): Mary Astor, Mary Brian, Joyce Compton, Dolores Costello, Joan Crawford, Marceline Day, Dolores Del Rio, Janet Gaynor, Sally Long, Edna Marion, Sally O'Neil, Vera Reynolds, Fay Wray

1927: Patricia Avery, Rita Carewe, Helene Costello, Barbara Kent, Natalie Kingston, Frances Lee, Mary McAllister, Gladys McConnell, Sally Phipps, Sally Rand, Martha Sleeper, Iris Stuart, Adamae Vaughn

1928: Lina Basquette, Flora Bromley, Sue Carol, Ann Christy, June Collyer, Alice Day, Sally Eilers, Audrey Ferris, Dorothy Gulliver, Gwen Lee, Molly O'Day, Ruth Taylor, Lupe Velez

1929: Jean Arthur, Sally Blane, Betty Boyd, Ethlyne Clair, Doris Dawson, Josephine Dunn, Helen Foster, Doris Hill, Caryl Lincoln, Anita Page, Mona Rico, Helen Twelvetrees, Loretta Young

1930: Because of the general upheaval after the changeover to sound and with a country still in shock over the Wall Street disaster, WAMPAS curtailed their yearly selection.

1931: Joan Blondell, Constance Cummings, Frances Dade, Frances Dee, Sidney Fox, Rochelle Hudson, Anita Louise, Joan Marsh, Marian Marsh, Karen Morley, Marion Shilling, Barbara Weeks, Judith Wood (alias Helen Johnson)

1932: Because of ties, WAMPAS presented no less than 15 "Babies" in 1932. One, Lillian Miles (of REEFER MADNESS fame), failed to show up (she was apparently getting married) and faced disqualification. Toshia Mori, the only non-Caucasian to be honored, earned the nod instead.

Lona Andre, Lillian Bond, Mary Carlisle, June Clyde, Patricia Ellis, Ruth Hall, Eleanor Holm, Evalyn Knapp, Dorothy Layton, Boots Mallory, Toshia Mori, Ginger Rogers, Marian Shockley, Gloria Stuart, Dorothy Wilson

1933: Officially due to the depression, WAMPAS cancelled the year's selection. Unofficially, the reason was too much studio interference.

1934: The last year of the WAMPAS selection was mainly to publicize two films, Paramount's KISS AND TELL and Mascot's YOUNG AND BEAUTIFUL. The "Babies" appeared as a group in both, but there was no "Frolic"!

Judith Arlen, Betty Bryson, Jean Carmen (alias Julia Thayer), Helen Cohan, Dorothy Drake, Jean Gale, Hazel Hayes, Ann Hovey, Lucille Lund, Lu Anne Meredith, Gigi Parrish, Jacqueline Wells (alias Diane Duval and Julie Bishop), Katherine Williams. Mary Kornman, Dorothy Granger, Lenore Keefe, Naomi Judge and Irene Ware were pronounced alternates.

The WAMPAS idea was ruined by the major studios who were loath to sponsor girls not under exclusive contracts. Thus, the period saw such competing "selections" as "Paramount Protegees of 1935" (Wendy Barrie, Grace Bradley [Boyd], Katherine DeMille, Gertrude Michael, Gail Patrick, Ann Sheridan); "The 1936 Flash Lighter Starlets" (Helen Burgess, Frances Gifford, Kay Hughes, Janice Jarrett, Rosina Lawrence, Joan Perry, Cecilia Parker, Barbara Pepper, June Travis, Helen Wood).

For 1938, the movie companies selected their "Lucky 13" starlets: Mary Maguire, Jane Bryan, Mary Russell, Jacqueline Wells (later, Julie Bishop), Phyllis Brooks, Betty Jaynes, Helen Troy, Olympe Branda, Barbara Read, Joan Woodbury, Sigrid Gurie, Franciska Gaal and Margaret Tallichet.

In 1940, the Motion Picture Publicists Association selected 13 "Baby Stars" ("The Mapa Baby Stars?"). They were: Ella Bryan, Lucia Carroll, Peggy Diggins, Lorraine Elliott, Jayne Hazard, Joan Leslie, Kay Leslie, Marilyn [Lynn] Merrick, Gay Parkes, Lois Ranson, Sheila Ryan, Patricia Van Cleve, Tanya Widrin.

An last and probably least: In 1956, a group of veteran stars --- among them WAMPAS Baby Ginger Rogers --- chose a bevy of beauties supposed to be known as --- The Wampas baby Stars. But there was no longer any Western Association of Motion Picture Advertisers and the idea fizzled. The selection took place nevertheless and 15 "babies" were chosen: Phyllis Applegate, Roxanne Arlen, Joleen Brand, Donna Cooke, Barbara Hoffman [Eden], Jewell Lain, Barbara Marx, Lita Milan, Norma Nilsson, Ina Poindexter, Violet Rensin, Dawn Richard and, finally, Delfin Thursday (Delfin Thursday?!).


Above is the property of, and copyright ©2000-2001, by Hans J. Wollstein



Kay Shackleton's SilentHollywood.com website has a large section on the WAMPAS winners: http://www.silenthollywood.com/WAMPUSbabystars.html

YouTube has videos of:
1931 WAMPAS winners: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0U-b8XKgDhk
1934 WAMPAS winners: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l6ftjI3PPqI

YouTube has a newsreel titled "Stars of Tomorrow", and this appears to be the 1932 WAMPAS winners. Johnny Mack Brown does the introductions of the starlets: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aJxW_lyXYFg

There's a photo of the 1932 WAMPAS stars at the moviediva website (and the starlets shown in the image match the YouTube video above): http://www.moviediva.com/MD_root/reviewpages/MDPictureSnatcher.htm




(Courtesy of Dave Smith)

Above - Carmelita Geraghty shares a tender moment with Buck Jones in this lobby card from MEN WITHOUT LAW (Columbia, 1930), one of the Sol Lesser produced oaters which was released by Columbia.



(Courtesy of Ed Tabor)

Above - Rex Lease and pretty Dorothy Gulliver in a romantic interlude from IN OLD CHEYENNE (Sono-Art/World Wide, 1931).



(Courtesy of Ed Tabor)

Above - Jack Hoxie restrains the Winchester-toting Alice Day, who is also pictured in the circular inset in this lobby card from Hoxie's GOLD (Majestic, 1932).



(From Old Corral image collection)

Above - Jean Carmen (1913-1993) using the screen name of Julia Thayer as the rider of the paint horse in THE PAINTED STALLION (Republic, 1937) chapterplay.  Carmen/Thayer was a WAMPAS winner in 1934.



(From Old Corral image collection)

Above are 'Starlight', Jack Perrin and Virginia Brown Faire (1904-1980) in RAINBOW RIDERS (Reliable, 1934), one of her last films.  Faire, whose real name was Virginia Labuna, was in silents and early 1930s talkies.  Faire was a WAMPAS winner in 1923.



(Courtesy of Les Adams)

Above is the title lobby card from THE COWBOY AND THE BANDIT (Superior, 1935).  Bobby Nelson is shown on the left with the chaps. Star Rex Lease (green shirt) is all tied up and on horseback. And the gal is Blanche Mehaffey, being billed here as 'Janet Morgan'.



(From Old Corral image collection)

Above, Fred Scott, the Silvery-Voiced Buckaroo, and heroine Marion Shilling in Scott's first western, ROMANCE RIDES THE RANGE (Spectrum, 1936).  Shilling's screen work was confined to the first half of the 1930s, and her western appearances were with Scott, Tom Keene, Big Boy Williams, Reb Russell, Buck Jones, Tim McCoy, Tom Tyler, Rex Bell and Hoot Gibson. ROMANCE RIDES THE RANGE was one of Shilling's final film roles - she retired around 1936 and married Edward Cook in 1937.



(From Old Corral image collection)

Above is a photo of a lobby card from FUGITIVE FROM SONORA (Republic, 1943) showing Lynn Merrick, Don Barry and baddie Ethan Laidlaw. Merrick was not a WAMPAS winner, but was one of the starlets selected by the Motion Picture Publicists Association in 1940.



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