SUCCESS STORY —Marian Rosamond of Norwood, who has clicked in films.
HOLLYWOOD, Jan. 29—Three years ago she left her home in Norwood, Mass., with $15 in her handbag, and practically no wardrobe except the dark suit she wore and the shoes she stood in. Her most valuable possession was courage.
Her professional experience consisted of one Summer stock job, modeling in Boston stores and a little commercial photography.
With this slender background, Marian Rosamond Flynn set out for the great gamble in New York: “I was scared,” she told me, “because I knew it was a cruel big city. My family were simply furious and wouldn’t help me, hoping that I would have to give up soon and come home.”
But she never went back except for brief visits. Last week Marian Rosamond (she has dropped her surname, Flynn) stepped off a plane in Hollywood. She wore the smartest of tailored outfits and in her handbag was a 20th Century-Fox contract to appear in “Road to Rio.”
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When Ray Dannebaum of the publicity staff brought her down to my house for a chat over a cup of tea it didn’t take my Hollywood trained eye many minutes to discern why Marian made the grade.
I was startled by her likeness to Bette Davis when Bette first came to Hollywood. She is much taller in a willowy way. But she has Bette’s blue eyes and that shy, inquisitive look Bette used to have before she learned the Hollywood game.
Rosamond is very blonde, but not in 100 years would you class her among the Hollywood blondes. She has a gentle distinction about her and a poise which she acquired modeling.
“Modeling gives you poise, confidence, teaches you how to walk gracefully, how to make the most of your good points,” she said.
And modeling brought her both her stage and screen chances. She was with the Vyvian Donner Fashion Show, which is a part of the Fox newsreel when she was chosen as one of six models to come to Hollywood for the “Road to Rio” picture. She impressed studio executives and was signed to a stock contract.
None of her family, she told me, had ever been connected with the theatre. Her father, Joseph Flynn, is a Boston architect. Her mother was Marian King of Norwood, where the family home is located. Her brother Joseph, several years older, works for a Boston advertising firm.
“I decided when I was going to high school at Norwood that acting was my ambition. I won a scholarship and took a course in dramatics at the New England Conservatory. One Summer I did a little work in stock in Weston, Vt., with the Harlan Grant Players.
“I got practical experience first in commercial photography and as a model at Filene’s. But I couldn’t see much future in Boston. I wanted to get away to New York. I set out with but one change of clothes. I wore a dark suit — dark clothes are always most presentable.
“I went right to the Powers Agency and registered, and I rented a little room nearby. Mr. Powers told me how to change my hair to improve my looks, and almost right away he got work for me. I made $50 the first week. Slowly I built up my wardrobe as best I could.”
Marian learned to wear clothes so well that she attracted the eye of Buddy De Sylva at the 21 Club one night. Result, he offered her a small role in his play, “Louisiana Purchase.” At night she acted. By day she modeled.
By this time she had become connected with the Fashion newsreel, where she caught the eye of the Fox talent scout. And he didn’t even have to make a screen test of her. The newsreel is a sort of advance Gallup Poll, which has it all over the customary screen test. A girl is at ease. She’s wearing terrific things, yet she hasn’t the nervous self-consciousness of a girl taking a screen test. She even has a fan following. The public writes in to express admiration for certain models seen in newsreels. “Why don’t you put that girl in pictures?” they wrote inquiringly.
Producer Darryl Zanuck had every reason to take a chance on Marian Rosamond. But it was still another gamble for her to come to Hollywood. She had to give up her role in “Louisiana Purchase.” Small though it was, it was a foothold.
“But I knew it would turn out all right,” she told me. And it did. She is already in line for small roles in “The Great American Broadcast” and “Miami.”
When the six girls were asked on arrival what they would do if they failed to make good in Hollywood, with one exception they replied they would go back to modeling. That one exception was Marian Rosamond. Her response was:
“It took me three years to get here—and I’m not going to give up easily. I’ll stick—and study until I learn my job.”
She has taken a small apartment in Westwood near the studio and doesn’t appear to be at all overwhelmed by Hollywood. The only thing that upset her, she confessed, was that first scene she had to appear in with Don Ameche.
“The very thought of it made me horribly nervous,” she said, “but he turned out to be so friendly and helpful, I soon threw it off.”
By MAYME OBER PEAK