Friday, May 24, 2013

The turkish bathers of Blunder Boys

by Ryan Fay

Blunder Boys (1955) is arguably the last classic Three Stooges short. The two-reeler, the last released before Shemp's passing, features a few memorable moments, including one scene where Moe, Larry, and Shemp end up in a turkish bath and startle four bathers.

The bathers were played by actresses Barbara Donaldson, Bonnie Henjum, Marjorie Jackson, and June Lebow. Aside from appearing in Blunder Boys, the four have one thing in common: the Internet Movie Database has no idea whatever happened to them.

But we do... for the most part.

BARBARA DONALDSON
Barbara Jane Donaldson was born April 10, 1936 in Los Angeles, California. She broke into films in the mid 1950's, and in addition to Blunder Boys, she was an extra in Around The World in Eighty Days (1956), a nurse in South Pacific (1958), and a bit player in Oceans Eleven (1960). She also doubled for Janet Leigh and Marilyn Monroe.

Donaldson is still alive and currently resides out west. When fellow Stooges supporting player researcher Frank Reighter contacted her earlier this year, she was happy to hear from a fan and glad to be remembered.

The key to finding out whatever happened to her came when I found a 1984 marriage to Lloyd Hooper. Eventually, Reighter was able to track him down, and he confirmed his now ex-wife was a former film extra. Hooper then gave us leads which ultimately led us to finding Donaldson.

BONNIE HENJUM
Bonnie Henjum was born Marguerite Lavonne Henjum in Florida circa 1933. Acting was in her blood from early on as she was discovered by a talent scout in Miami on one of the Mae Rose kiddie shows and later attended the Mar-Ken school, a school for child actors and actresses. She was also a member of the Kate Crutcher Players in 1941.

Her first movie role was as a singer and dancer in the 1939 Bing Crosby film The Star Marker. She would go on to appear in at least eleven more films from 1944-1956, including Blunder Boys and another Stooges short, Flagpole Jitters (1956). She also showed up on television in the Ozzie and Harriet show.

She married Fredrick M. Thomas in Los Angeles, California on August 16, 1956 and they had three children prior to divorcing in May, 1967.

Henjum is happily retired in California. When contacted by Reighter in 2011, she was happy to be remembered and added she was open to possibly attending a future fan club meeting.

MARJORIE JACKSON
Marjorie Jackson's current status is a mystery.

Fan club researchers had accounted for her as of 2006, but we don't have current contact information. When contacted through someone else at the time, Jackson was described as sounding "very old" with a "fading memory." When Reighter corresponded with her by mail, she had no recollection of working with the Stooges.

More recent research has revealed some biographical tidbits. She was born in Detroit, Michigan circa 1920 and was later "Miss Detroit, Michigan" in the 1938 Miss America pageant. She crashed the Hollywood scene in the early 1940s and appeared in at least 18 films from 1942-1956 as well as a January 1956 episode of the television show Medic. Most of her film roles appear to be of the minor, uncredited variety.

The Internet Movie Database lists a couple titles from the late 1970s/early 1980s on her page, but it is quite possible it was a mixup on their part. TCM's database does not credit her with anything after 1956.

Jackson's name made the rounds in the newspapers throughout the 1940s. She was romantically linked with various individuals, including circus icon John Ringling North, actor Mickey Rooney, and defense plant owner Paul E. Parramore. However, no marriage or divorce records have been found.

Without current contact information, Jackson is the lone "turkish bather" who remains unaccounted for. It is unclear if she is still alive.

JUNE LEBOW (a.k.a June Leabow)
June Lebow was born June Marie Cook on June 17, 1930.

I unearned her first marriage, to a Richard Drag Leabow in North Augusta, South Carolina on June 18th, 1950. The couple had one child, but divorced in Los Angeles, California on March 21, 1957.

Veteran supporting player researcher Bill Cappello found a later marriage to Michael Colton in 1966 and discovered the couple had a daughter of their own.

Through various sources, we found that Lebow was still alive on the west coast. Though wheelchair bound, she told Reighter she maintains a "positive outlook" on life.

Her known film/television credits are Blunder Boys and a December 1954 episode of the TV show Medic.


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