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Wednesday, 10 January 2018


Actress Madge Meredith

'She's too cute to be criminal!' said Humphrey Bogart  of forties star Madge Meredith whose life story was more  dramatic than any of the films in which she  appeared.

Madge, who died at the end of 2016, was convicted of  kidnapping her manager and given a three year jail sentence in 1946. Astonishingly she returned to films when her sentence was complete.This unlikely story was revealed in an obituary in The Times newspaper this week, of the actress  born Marjorie May Massow in Iowa in 1921.

As a young child she suffered from a stammer but this did not deter her from going on the stage.
She studied acting in New York before making her way to Hollywood. She took a waitressing job with 20th Century Fox and waited to be discovered.

Along came Oscar-winning star Jennifer Jones who agreed that the waitress had potential and recommended her for a screen test. Soon 20th Century Fox had signed her up and cast her in supporting roles in several films including Otto Preminger's In the Meantime Darling released in 1944.   When they eventually let her go, Madge got her own manager, a Greek called Nicholas Gianaclis.

All went well until Gianaclis lent Madge some money towards the purchase of a house in the Hollywood Hills. This led to arguments over ownership which ended up in court. The judge ruled in the actress's favour. Fighting back, her manager  went to the police and alleged that Madge had tricked him into following her car to a quiet place in the hills, where she had arranged for him and his companion to be kidnapped at gunpoint. They were beaten up and taken to a different location from where they escaped.

After a four-week trial Madge and three men were convicted of various offences, but there were doubts over the conviction. When the conduct of the trial was questioned the California /State governor ordered her release saying: 'This is a bizarre case, perhaps more fantastic than any moving picture in which the defendant acted.'

She was released on her 30th birthday when, as the Los Angeles Times reported, 'She ran from the main entrance and refused to look back as the big chain-link gates, topped with barbed wire, clanged shut on the past.'

Between her arrest an release she had spent just over three years in prison. Madge resumed her acting career but effectively had to start over again.  When she finished filming she worked in television into the 1960s, then married and worked as an estate agent in Hawaii.

At the time of her conviction Madge said: 'I know in my heart I am innocent of any crime. Some day, someone will believe the truth about what I say.'

Among her supporters was Humphrey Bogart who was known for his outspoken views on social issues...

NB If Humphrey said she was too cute to be criminal, who are we to argue? ;)


WILLIE........! =^..^= said...

Well...I'm a very BIG fan of Humphrey Bogart..
As l am with all with ALL the stars of that era...
Bette Davis, Jane Russell, James Cagney, George
Raft..etc..So much better than the 'tarts' on
screen to~day..most of them anyway!
I saw some off the woman recently at the Golden
Globe Awards...Rough! I'd say so...! :(.

But! If we go back to that era, most of the actors/
actresses had been up to something naughty in their
life time...Take Fatty Arbuckle...Now! He was a naughty
boy...Less said..!

So if Bogart says she's to cute to be a criminal...that's
o.k. by me...after all...he's made some great quotes...
"Of all the gin joints in all the towns in all the world,
she walks into mine". :).

Guernsey Girl said...

Hi Willie. Humphrey Bogart is the reason I'm so taken with this story. There was no greater actor from that era and, as you say, his quotes have gone down in history. Think I was born far too late!

Elaineyross said...

Whilst I’m somewhat unfamiliar with this erstwhile star, my husband, who incidentally is an avid film buff of movies from bygone times, assures me that she was renound in her own right. Nonetheless, it seems pretty amazing that she was able to resume her career after all the shannigans. I don’t believe this would be the case today though Marilyn - do you?

Guernsey Girl said...

That's what fascinates me, too, about the story! Nowadays, twitter and facebook would have made sure no-one ever cast the poor girl in a film again...