Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Whatever happened to Norma Randall?

by Three Stooges Journal Staff

For people like me who research lost supporting players from the Three Stooges films, Norma Randall is by far the most frustrating case I've come up against. Unlike many lost players, who appeared in only a single short, Randall made appearances in multiple shorts (Spooks, Musty Musketeers and Pals and Gals).

But more importantly, while most of the "lost" players that we locate are long dead by the time we "find" them, it's entirely possible that Randall is still alive.

While I've been researching her for almost three years without much luck, others have been looking for her for much longer than that. We've combed through census records, birth and death records, multiple genealogy sites, Variety's archives, newspaper archives, player directories, and even fan magazines of the day.

We have asked some of Randall's contemporaries such as Diana Darrin, Sylvia Lewis and others if they remember her, but none do. Our search has even been plugged by Leonard Maltin (Entertainment Tonight), Frank Thompson (The Commentary Track podcast), and Stu Shostak (Stu 's Show).

"I'm as curious about what happened to her as any other Stooge fan," Maltin wrote.

The first mention of Randall that we can locate is a January 28, 1953, Variety report stating that "Norma Randall, 21-year-old grad of local little theaters, has been inked to a term contract by Columbia." The "local little theaters" is a reference to the Los Angeles area, but that small detail has not yielded any additional clues or information.

If she was indeed a 21-year-old in early 1953, it would dispute the September 5, 1930 birthdate listed at the Internet Movie Database (IMDB). It's unknown where IMDB obtained that birthdate, but either way, if still living Randall would probably be somewhere in her early to mid-80s.

Randall was the subject of several news reports in the Spring of 1953. In early March, newspapers reported that Randall was chosen "queen" of the California International Flowers Show in Hollywood.

On May 19th 1953, Randall was one of ten "stars of tomorrow" as honored at the American Legion Hollywood Post 43. Others honored included Roberta Haynes and Lisa Gaye.

Then in late May, Randall was pictured in newspapers across the country after she was named "Miss Powered Flight" in honor of the 50th anniversary of the first powered flight.

In April of 1953, Randall began her association with the Stooges, and she would appear in three different shorts with them.

First up would be Musty Musketeers. This remake of the Stooges' 1948 short, Fiddlers Three, was filmed on April 27, 1953. Randall plays "Millieth," one of the Boys' girlfriends.

The very next day, Randall was back in front of the camera, again working on another Stooges remake, Pals and Gals. This one was a re-do of 1947's Out West. In this one Randall plays Nell's sister, "Zelle". For some reason, both Musty Musketeers and Pals And Gals would stay in the can for about a year as neither film was released until well into 1954

Randall's most prominent Stooges role came in Spooks, a 3-D short filmed from May 11th-14th 1953. Ironically, Randall portrays a missing blonde (named "Bea Bopper") who the Stooges locate. Spooks was released only a month after filming to capitalize on the then current 3-D craze. So while this was Randall's first released film with the Stooges it was actually the last one she worked in with them.

Aside from her work with the Stooges, Randall had only three other known film roles. These were all small roles in a trio of 1953 Columbia features, Cruisin' Down The River (released August 1953), Mission Over Korea (released August 1953; filming began in February), and The Big Heat (released October 1953; filming began on March 17th).

When announcing that Randall was cast in The Big Heat, the trade paper Variety touted her as a former USC co-ed, an angle which has never been substantiated. Fellow Journal staff member, Frank Reighter, contacted USC a few years ago and they confirmed that there wasn't anyone named "Norma Randall" at the school around that time.

And that's all we can find. It appears as if Randall was active in Hollywood for only a few short months in 1953. The only six film roles we can locate were all shot in the first half of that year. No one has located any information about her life prior to her signing with Columbia in January of 1953, and after mid-1953 she basically drops out

No further information or articles can be located about her after that point in time. One possibility is that Randall got married and took her husband's last name. But to date we've been unable to locate any marriage records or even a mention of a marriage in the press.

Another possibility is that "Norma Randall" was merely a stage name and that when she decided to leave Hollywood, she reverted back to her real birth name (which is as yet unknown).

As mentioned earlier, if still alive today, Randall would only be in her early 80's and might still be able to be able to shed some light on her experiences with the Boys if we could locate her.

If anyone reading this knows anything about her -- and someone out there must know something -- please comment below or use the contact tab at the top of the page. We're sometimes just one clue away.

Norma Randall in Spooks (1953)

1953 newspaper mention of Randall

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Previously Unidentified: Larry Williams

by Frank Reighter

Larry Williams was identified in April 2014 by Brent Seguine, as the party guest in Pest Man Wins (1951). Also featured in that short was his wife Helen Dickson. 

Larry Williams, Pest Man Wins (1951)
Lawrence Albert ("Larry") Williams was born May 24, 1889 in Homestead (Allegheny County), Pennsylvania.  His parents were Albert and Sarah (Garrigan) Williams.  Eventually, Larry and his brother, Emmett A. Williams, became behind-the-camera technicians with several silent film companies.  According to the Internet Movie Database (IMDb), he is listed in 5 films from 1951 to 1957.  This doesn't include his recently discovered role in Pest Man Wins (1951).

He married Helen (Hornbrook) Dickson on April 28, 1950.  Helen was also active in Three Stooges shorts.  They lived at 2909 Park Center Drive in Los Angeles, California.  Larry died there at 3:45 AM on March 30, 1956.  Cause of death was arteriosclerotic heart disease.  Helen was the informant.  He was buried April 3, 1956, through Callanan Mortuary, in Calvary Cemetery in Los Angeles, California.  Helen died November 17, 1983, and is interred in Hollywood Forever Cemetery in Los Angeles, California. 

Special thanks to Brent Seguine for identifying Larry in "Pest Man Wins", and to Bill Cappello, who helped in 2009 with information on Helen Dickson Williams.

Friday, April 4, 2014

Previously Unidentified: Ralph Volkie

by Frank Reighter

Ralph Volkie had been identified for his role as Orlando's bartender in the 1963 feature 4 for Texas, which also featured the Three Stooges, Moe, Larry and Curly-Joe.

Volkie in Hula-La-La (1951)
But Three Stooges Fan Club member Brent Seguine identified him in April 2014 as the native henchman in the Three Stooges 1951 short Hula-La-La.

Ralph Volkie was born in Arizona July 7, 1910. The Internet Movie Database (IMDb) lists him in 93 films and TV shows from 1940 to 1976, including many westerns. He is listed in David Regan's book Who's Who in Hollywood (1992).

Ralph Volkie died March 6, 1987. He is buried in Forest Lawn Memorial Park (Hollywood Hills), California in plot Homeward, Lot 2879, Space 2. His grave is unmarked.

Special thanks to Brent Seguine, for identifying Volkie in Hula-La-La.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Previously Unidentified: Helen Servis

by Frank Reighter

Helen Louise Servis was born October 11, 1908 to Leland Brookins Servis (b. Aug. 6, 1873 - d. July 25, 1959) and Helen Long Servis (b. May 16, 1883 - d. Jan. 30, 1976). She had an older brother, Robert Mitchell Servis (b. May 7, 1905 - d. Dec. 19, 1993), and a sister, Dorothy (b. c 1908 - d. unknown).

Servis in Spook Louder (1943)
Helen attended Los Angeles High School in the late 1920's, and Angeles Junior College in the early 1930's.

According to the Internet Movie Database (IMDb), Helen was in 13 films (which did not include Spook Louder) from 1936 until 1953. Mostly they were bit parts.

She was featured in All American Blondes (1939), an Andy Clyde Columbia short where she was a lady basketball player. She was also in the classic The Snake Pit (1948), where she played an inmate named "Miss Servis". She was in an episode of the Gene Autry TV Show in 1951. She played Hortense Appleby in Heir to the Lazy L.

Helen never married. She died June 4, 1983 in Newport Beach (Orange County), California.

Special thanks to Greg Hilbrich and Hal Erickson for identifying Helen as the lady in "Spook Louder".

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Who played Professor Tuttle?

by Ryan Fay

The actor who played "Professor Tuttle" in We Want Our Mummy (1939) remains one of the biggest unidentified player cases.

It is NOT Robert Williams as some sources report.

Does this actor look familiar to anyone?

If so, comment below or use the contact link at the top of the page.