Saturday, February 6, 2016

Theodore Le Berthon (1892-1960)-Part One

Aka Theodore LeBerthon, Ted Le Berthon, Ted LeBerthon
Author, Editor, Reporter, Columnist, Critic, Activist
Born January 9, 1892, San Francisco, California
Died January 31, 1960, Fresno, California

Here's a bit of gossip:
Franklin B. Pollock, wealthy 51-year-old Elmira, N. Y., glass manufacturer, was divorced from his second wife today and immediately wed No. 3, a pretty model from St. Louis. Wife No. 2, the former Helene Le Berthon of Beverly Hills, Calif., told newsmen she received a "pleasant settlement. It made me very happy." She wouldn't say how much it was, but friends estimated the settlement sum as "close to one million dollars." "Just say it will keep me in nylons for a good while," she added. Mrs. Pollock, 33, the daughter of Ted Le Berthon, Los Angeles newspaperman, was granted a divorce in a closed hearing before district judge A.J. Maestretti. The grounds were mental cruelty. Pollock, who married Miss Le Berthon in 1947 in New York City with Barbara (Bobo) Rockefeller standing by as maid of honor, flew to Reno from Elmira in a private plane early today. Following the divorce, he married Mrs. Virginia Lee Teaford, a twice-wed model. She was divorced recently in St. Louis from John K. Teaford, head of Teaford Industries, an international investment and trade firm with headquarters in Rio De Janeiro. Pollock is chairman of the board of the Thatcher Glass manufacturing company of Elmira. (Boldface added; from the Kansas City Times, October 21, 1954, p. 19.)
Described by the New York Times as "a self-made businessman," Franklin B. Pollock (1903-1998) was president and chief executive of Thatcher Glass Manufacturing Company, among other accomplishments. In addition to being married to an actress, he had other ties to California and the movie business as a friend and political supporter of Ronald Reagan. Pollock had at least one more wife after No. 3. When he died at home in Holmby Hills, California, in 1998, he was survived by his wife Elsie, along with two children, seven grandchildren, and eight great grandchildren. (1)

John K. Teaford (1910-1987), who was on the losing end of the deal (presumably) in which he gave up Virginia Lee Teaford, the "pretty model from St. Louis," to Franklin B. Pollock, was also a businessman with ties to Hollywood. In the mid 1940s, he formed a partnership called Teaford, Danches & Company. That partnership dissolved after the war and after a little feuding among the partners. George Danches went on to work on the production side of a couple of films, Untamed Fury (1947) and Harpoon (1948). For his part, Teaford produced Accomplice (1946), a film-noir detective movie co-written by Frank Gruber (1904-1969), a prolific writer of pulp fiction, including stories for Weird Tales. As for Virginia Lee Teaford Pollock, she seems to have disappeared from the public record.

Born Jievute Paulekiute in western Pennsylvania, Barbara "Bobo" Sears Rockefeller (1916-2008) was a daughter of Lithuanian immigrants--her father was a coal miner and a railroad worker--who attained wealth and fame by marrying one of the richest men in America. First came her crowning as Miss Lithuania at age seventeen, then acting parts on stage, including Knights of Song (1938) and Tobacco Road (1939), and screen, including Bad Men of the Border (1945), Code of the Lawless (1945), and That Night with You (1945). In her stage-acting career, she called herself Eva Paul. (Jievute is the Lithuanian diminutive of Eva.) On screen, she was Barbara Sears, a surname that came by way of her marriage to wealthy socialite Richard Sears, Jr., whom she had met in Boston while performing in Tobacco Road.

Barbara Paul Sears divorced her husband in 1947. By then she had already met husband No. 2, Winthrop Rockefeller (1912-1973). That propitious event happened in 1946. He gave her a big rock of a ring. (2) She responded by marrying him on St. Valentine's Day 1948 in Palm Beach. Less than two years later, they were separated. They finally divorced in 1954. She got custody of their son, a 10,000 square-foot apartment in New York, and another apartment in Paris. He got the governorship of Arkansas (1967-1971). His term and his second marriage, to previously thrice-married socialite Jeanette Edris, came to an end in the same year. He died in 1973 of cancer. Rockefeller's first wife, Barbara the Lithuanian beauty queen, never remarried and died at age ninety-one in Little Rock, Arkansas. (3)

Helene Le Berthon (1918-1992), Mrs. Pollock No. 2 and according to gossip columnist Dorothy Kilgallen, "Bobo Rockefeller's close chum," was, like her friend, an actress. Her first big role, if you can call it that, came in the movie Religious Racketeers, released in 1938. She also appeared on stage, as Helene or Helena Le Berthon, in The Millard Show (revue, 1936) Soliloquy (1938), Tobacco Road (1939), Blossom Time (1943), The Student Prince (1943), Let's Face It (1944), Questionable Ladies (1944), and A Lady Says Yes (1945). Only two years separated her in age from Eva Paul, aka Barbara Rockefeller. The two young actresses may very well have met while performing in the cast of Tobacco Road in 1939, when Bobo was about twenty-three and Helene was about twenty-one. (4) In any event, like the bit of gossip opening this article says, Bobo was maid of honor for her close chum when Helene Le Berthon married Franklin B. Pollock on February 23, 1947, evidently at the Hampshire House in Boston. (5) Upon her divorce, she got close to a million dollars from the ex-hubby. Barbara Rockefeller bested her friend by four or five million. They were both divorced in the same year.

A few years after her divorce, Helene Le Berthon appeared on the small screen, on episodes of The Betty Hutton Show (1960) and The Chevy Mystery Show (1960). Those may have been her last acting credits. They came in the year that her father died after a long life writing for movies, newspapers, and magazines, including Weird Tales. His name was Theodore Le Berthon, and as a devout Catholic, he could not have thought very much of all that divorcing and remarrying. But then it ran in the family.

To be continued . . . 

Notes
(2) I'll avoid the obvious pun by not calling him a "rock-a-fella."
(4) See the Reading Times, October 28, 1939, p. 9, here. Look for Helene Le Berthon and Eva Paul in the cast of Tobacco Road.
(5) The place is according to a contemporary item in the New York Times, "Helene LeBerthon Wed; Bride of Franklin B. Pollock In Hampshire Hojjse [sic] Nuptials" here. The headline has obviously been scanned by a computer program, which seems to have read the u as a jj.The article is a subscription article, and I don't have a subscription, so I can't say for sure what it says.

A set of lobby cards for Accomplice, a movie from 1946 starring Richard Arlen, co-written by Frank Gruber, and produced by John K. Teaford.

Barbara "Bobo" Rockefeller on the cover of Life magazine, March 15, 1954.

And the connection between them, actress Helene Le Berthon (second from left). All together, they are: Ralph Thomas (singing coach) with (left to right) Elaine Dennis, Helene Le Berthon, Colleen Ward, Marilyn Knowlden, Muriel Goodspeed, and Eleanor Prentiss, from 1936. Muriel Goodspeed played in the 1936 serial Flash Gordon.

Text and captions copyright 2016 Terence E. Hanley

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