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).
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.
WHAT WE DO KNOW
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.
HER WORK WITH THE STOOGES
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|