(Courtesy of the Newill Family)
Above is ballerina Annabel Milada Mraz whose stage and movie name was Milada Mladova. She does a dance number in one of Ye Old Corral webmaster's favorite musicals, NIGHT AND DAY (Warners, 1946) which starred Cary Grant as Cole Porter. It's not a great film, but it is chock full of fabulous music. One number features the great voice of Carlos Ramirez singing "Begin the Beguine". Dancing to the song are Milada and Yuri Zoritch (who was known as George Zoritch) and both get credit in the opening titles.
Below is a scene still from the dance number.
(Courtesy of the Newill Family)
(Courtesy of the Newill Family)
Above are Milada Newill and Sterling Holloway (best remembered as the voice of "Winnie the Pooh"). This still is probably from the Italian film ADDIO MIMÍ! (1949) in which Milada played a dance student.
Rick Newill Remembers ...
"Dad met Mom in the Broadway musical, Sadie Thompson, in 1944 where she was the leading dancer and Dad was the leading male singer. Dad was unhappily married at the time to his first wife, Ethel Slye of Los Angeles. Dad used to tell the story of his first sight of Mom this way, Dad was watching Mom performing a Polynesian island dance for the show while wearing a seashell bra. As she danced, a few of the shells inadvertently flew off. Dad, in the wings and ever watchful for an opportunity, noted that the most strategic shells never detached, to his dismay. This story was a running gag between Mom and Dad over the years for us kids.
He was smitten with the beautiful dancer and a romance began. He subsequently divorced his first wife and married Mom. Dad and Mom stayed in New York for a couple of years but the theatrical shows they appeared in had limited success. In about 1946, Mom was offered a film role in Italy and accepted. During this time Dad was recovering from an appendectomy, and could not travel and stayed in New York. He later joined Mom a few months later, when she was offered another film role, and they lived in Italy for a year, where Dad studied opera. They remembered this as some of their most enjoyable time together. This was right after the war, when life was inexpensive for Americans with a little money in Italy. When the money ran out, they returned to the US on a Liberty ship. When they landed in New York, they had to depend on their landlord to pay their taxi bill back to their apartment. This was typical of Dad, spending their last money before returning to reality.
Mom appeared in a couple of shows and Dad worked for friends (the Borgia's) helping at the family toddler clothes factory.
Mom appeared in ESCAPE ME NEVER (Warners, 1947) starring Errol Flynn. Mom was invited by Errol Flynn to his yacht one night. Flynn cautioned her to never call him. Mom said she would try to make it. Upon returning to her hotel, she and her friend, Yuri Zoritch, were delayed in rehearsal. Mom thought it was too late to go to the yacht, but Yuri made her call Flynn to get directions. A butler answered and informed her that Mr. Flynn was unavailable. Mom never went to the yacht.
Mom became pregnant with her first child, Milada in 1949.
Mom can't remember much else about what she or Dad were doing at this time. At some point, Mom and Dad traveled to California and Mom appeared as a dancer in a several films, including several Arabian films popular at the time. They lived with Dad's mother, Mayme Newill. Dad was still unemployed, though making some money in singing lessons.
At one point (daughter Milada was a toddler), Mom was making good money in films and they were living in Beverly Hills. Dad started selling real estate and, with his charming personality, was very successful. Before long, though, he had a falling out with the office manager and lost interest. Mom remembers this to be a source of consternation on her part. He was finally making decent money, but typical of Dad, he quit because he lost interest.
Their second child, Colleen, was born on 1951. Dad was working in his mother's service station and Mom was taking dance classes.
In 1953, Dad and Mom, decided to move to Northern California to buy a ranch. Dad was having health problems (he had been incorrectly diagnosed with TB), and was advised to move to the country. Dad went up to look around and bought a ranch without Mom's knowledge. Mom's father had just died and Mom decided that her mother should move up there with them. They spent the next five years struggling out an existence with Dad attempting to run a small sawmill and working for the local timber companies in logging. During this time their most beloved child (just my opinion), Ricky was born in 1957. They left the ranch when finances forced the issue, moving to Redding, California. Dad worked at a classical radio station as a disk jockey. Mom took some high school level courses in night school.
Dad met a friend who was in the kiddie ride business (i.e., those fiberglass horses and cars outside the grocery store that a kid could ride for a nickel or dime). The friend offered him a job in the business in Southern California, in Thousand Oaks. The family moved to Thousand Oaks in about 1960. Dad worked for this man and then took over the business, running it through the 1960s. During this time he became an expert in fiberglass work. He also experimented in fiberglass speedboats and injected foam picture frames. None of these businesses were financially successful. During this time, Mom was the primary breadwinner, running a successful ballet school in Thousand Oaks.
The family lived in a tract home and Dad experimented with many activities, including oil painting, cabinet and furniture making, and renovating the house. He loved to barbeque. Our barbequed Thanksgiving turkeys were a tradition that I still carry on.
In about 1971, the family moved from its tract home to a 2-acre property, where Dad and Mom renovated the main house and guest house. During this time Dad renewed his love for horses and the leisure life by acquiring two horses and officially becoming retired. He experimented with wine making and spent time with his family.
Dad was an outgoing, impressive man. He was an intellectual with a cultural background that could also relate to the average person's interests. He was equally comfortable listening to opera and discussing medicine with my physician uncle, as he was doing metal and fiberglass fabrication work with neighborhood dads. He was universally respected by all who knew him, including all of my friends growing up.
As a father he was warm and loving, if just a little distant. Perhaps this was a factor of his times, when dads were more of the patriarchal figure to be respected and admired, a little removed from their children. It also may have been a factor of his age, which was relatively advanced by the time I came along (he was 47 when I was born). I don't recall much time throwing balls or rough-housing with him when I was young, but later he spent time with me at the trap shooting range. And he loved camping and boating, which was fine with me. I loved him dearly, as did my sisters.
I'll give you one anecdote that illustrates how special he was with his kids. My sister Colleen's teen years occurred during the height of the 1960s hippy culture. She fell into that culture fully even adopting Buddhism, which she still practices today. Of course this was very alien and distressing to my father and mother, and there was a great deal of turmoil in the family during this time. In fact, my sister came very close to running away to join a commune, which could have been very dangerous at her age. One day, following a particularly bad period, my father asked my sister to come into the garage. There she found an elaborate Buddhist ceremonial box that my father had built for her from scratch (recall I said he was interested in cabinet making). Not only did this demonstrate his deep caring for her by expending the many hours to make such a gift, but it also was his way of saying the he accepted and respected her religious choice. From that point forward, their relationship was transformed.
I hope this gives you some insight into the special man that was James Newill, singer, actor, and beloved father."