Back to prior page

The WAMPAS Baby Stars

Special thanks to 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 U. S., Hans now resides in a 200 year old country cottage near his hometown of Copenhagen, Denmark.

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, Mary Astor, Joan Blondell, Loretta Young, Ginger Rogers, and Clara Bow. Sprinkled among the winners were also a number of actresses who did heroine duty in B westerns and serials - included are Blanche Mehaffey, Marion Shilling, Evalyn Knapp, Carmelita Geraghty and Jean Carmen (Julia Thayer).

Years and winners were:

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 (AKA Barbara Worth), Dorothy Mackaill, Blanche Mehaffey (AKA 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 (AKA Violet La Plante), Olive Borden, Anne Cornwall, Ena Gregory (AKA Marian Douglas), Madeline Hurlock, Natalie Joyce, June Marlowe, Joan Meredith (AKA 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 (AKA 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 (AKA Julia Thayer), Helen Cohan, Dorothy Drake, Jean Gale, Hazel Hayes, Ann Hovey, Lucille Lund, Lu Anne Meredith, Gigi Parrish, Jacqueline Wells (AKA 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.

And 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 website had a large section on the WAMPAS winners including many group photos. But her website is no longer working. A saved copy is available at the Internet Archive Wayback Machine:

YouTube has videos of:
1931 WAMPAS winners:
1934 WAMPAS winners:

YouTube has a newsreel titled "Stars of Tomorrow", and this appears to be the 1933 WAMPAS winners. Johnny Mack Brown introduces the starlets:

Some of the WAMPAS Baby Stars in B westerns and serials.

(Courtesy of Dave Smith)

Carmelita Geraghty (1901 - 1966) 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. Her brothers were Gerald Geraghty (1906 - 1954) and Maurice Geraghty (1908 - 1987), and their early work was script writing and story development at Nat Levine's Mascot cliffhanger factory. Gerald continued scripting and writing and was working for Republic Pictures when he passed away. Maurice produced Falcon mysteries with George Sanders and Tom Conway at RKO. And he worked on the script for Elvis Presley's first starrer, LOVE ME TENDER (1956).

(Courtesy of Ed Tabor)

Rex Lease and pretty Dorothy Gulliver (1908 - 1997) in a romantic interlude from IN OLD CHEYENNE (Sono-Art/World Wide, 1931).

(Courtesy of Bruce Hickey)

Great lobby card with a closeup of Tom Tyler and Caryl Lincoln (1903 - 1983) in Tyler's THE MAN FROM NEW MEXICO (Monogram, 1932). This film is among the lost / missing.

(Courtesy of Ed Tabor)

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).

(Courtesy of Minard Coons)

Above - pretty blonde Joyce Compton (1907 - 1997) and Tim McCoy in FIGHTING FOR JUSTICE (Columbia, 1932). Kentucky born Joyce Compton had a smooth and sweet Southern drawl and wound up specializing in playing ditzy blondes and second female leads, often stealing the scene from the leading lady.

(From Old Corral 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 sound films.

(From Old Corral collection)

Above from L-to-R are Chester Gan, Bill Patton, Charles 'Slim' Whitaker, Lucille Lund, and the bare-chested Reb Russell in Reb's FIGHTING THROUGH (Willis Kent, 1934). Lucille Lund also attended Northwestern University at the same time that Russell was there.

(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 (1903 - 1968), being billed as 'Janet Morgan'.

(From Old Corral collection)

Above - Fred Scott, the Silvery-Voiced Buckaroo, and heroine Marion Shilling (1910? - 2004) in Scott's first starring 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.

(Courtesy of Bruce Hickey)

Above - Jean Carmen (1913 - 1993) and Ray Corrigan in a lobby card from THE PAINTED STALLION (Republic, 1937). In this cliffhanger, she played the rider of the paint horse and was billed as 'Julia Thayer'.

(From Old Corral collection)

Above - Evalyn Knapp (1908 - 1981) is chatting with Smith Ballew in a lobby card from Ballew's HAWAIIAN BUCKAROO (Principal/20th C Fox, 1938).

(From Old Corral collection)

Above is a photo of a lobby card from FUGITIVE FROM SONORA (Republic, 1943) showing Lynn Merrick (1921 - 2007), 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.

Back to prior page