Monday, June 10, 2013

Lost and found: Ninette Crawford

by Ryan Fay

A long-standing cast error has been identified and corrected.

For decades, it was widely published that one of the women on the golf course in Three Little Beers (1935) was played by Nanette Crawford (1893-1975), a stage actress and wife of actor Harry Hollingsworth (1888-1947).

However, when Three Stooges Journal staffers were readying her mini-bio for the fall 2013 issue, some doubt was expressed whether the woman in Three Little Beers could have been born in 1893. Another Journal staffer didn't think the woman looked nearly that old.

It turns out she wasn't -- and that she wasn't Nanette Crawford, either. The woman in question was actually played by Ninette Crawford, another actress entirely. After some digging, and later confirmation via snipe on the back of an old photo, it was all confirmed.

Ninette Crawford in Three Little Beers
(threestooges.net)
Ninette was born on July 5, 1912 in San Francisco, California to John and Hebe Crawford. Growing up, she attended LeConte Junior High School in Hollywood. Ninette would marry young, tying the knot with bank clerk turned assistant production manager Sherman Harris on Mar. 11, 1932 in Los Angeles. At the time, she was listed in the Los Angeles city directory as an actress.

The couple had one son, Sherman Jr., who lived 1936-1993. In the 1940 census, the Harris' were listed as living at 4845 Agnes Avenue in Los Angeles. Ninette identified herself as a picture extra at a motion picture studio. She reported working 26 weeks in 1939, earning $940.

The Harris had a daughter, Beth, in August, 1943. The couple divorced later in the 1940's as Ninette married for the second time on Apr. 7, 1947, again in Los Angeles. Her second husband was real estate broker Joseph Berchtold, also on his second marriage. On the marriage documents, Ninette was now identifying herself as a housewife. This marriage also lacked sticking power and ended at an unknown time.

She re-married again on July 19, 1963, this time to a Eugene Roberts. The pair divorced in Jan. 1971. After going (at least) 0-for-3 in the marriage department, she called it quits and apparently never married again.

Ninette passed away at French Hospital in San Francisco on Feb. 11, 1978. Causes of death included cancer, small bowel obstruction, and a collapsed right lung. At the time of her death, she was employed as an executive secretary with the San Francisco Dental Society. She was laid to rest in the Cypress Lawn Memorial Park in Colma, California.

Her known films roles are as a woman on the golf course in Three Little Beers and a company "C" girl in Parachute Nurse (Columbia, 1942). According to Ninette's maternal grandson, she was also in Mr. Smith Goes to Washington (Columbia, 1939). Since she was a film extra, it's possible that there are other undocumented appearances.

As this case shows, the smallest of details can go a long way in finding out whatever happened to someone. In this case, it was all of one letter in a first name.

Special thanks to fellow researcher Frank Reighter and Ninette's maternal grandson for some of the information here.

Ninette's signature

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