Sunday, February 7, 2016

Theodore Le Berthon (1892-1960)-Part Two

Martha Morgan: You newspapermen are so cynical about everything that doesn’t come out of your own typewriters.
That was actress Helene Le Berthon's first line in the movie Religious Racketeers (1938). There's some irony in it, considering that Helene's father was a lifelong newspaperman and that her grandfather was a newspaper reporter as well as an owner and publisher of news journals and other publications. Helene seems to have worked in the newspaper business as well, probably on the same paper as her father. According to the website of the American Film Institute (AFI):
A news item during production [of the 1937 picture A Million to One] noted that Helen LeBerthon [sic] of the [Los AngelesDaily News editorial staff was cast in the picture, however, her participation in the completed film has not been confirmed. (Link here.)
She may very well have gotten the role because of her father's connections, especially in the movie business. It proved to be her only credited movie role, at least according to The Internet Movie Database. The film, called an "exploitation feature" by The Film Daily, was short and soon forgotten. (More on that later.) Today it resides in the public domain. Helene Le Berthon has been largely forgotten as well, although she had a couple of TV parts in 1960. Despite all that, she had something few actors or actresses then or now can match: her birth, which took place on February 19, 1918, was announced in the show business paper Variety.

Helene Le Berthon was the only child of Theodore M. and Frances Elizabeth (Hawley) Le Berthon, who were married in Los Angeles on April 4, 1917, the year before she was born. Ted Le Berthon, then in his mid twenties, was already making his living as a writer. Now, nearly a century later, it's not very difficult to put together some facts on his life and career. Mrs. Le Berthon, on the other hand, is almost lost except for her peripheral involvement in the Kid McCoy scandal of 1920. (1) She was born on September 28, 1897, to Charles O. and Anne or Anna M. Hawley, married at age nineteen, and a mother at twenty. In the 1930 census, Frances E. Le Berthon was living with her parents in Los Angeles and had her daughter with her. Her husband was nowhere in sight. Ordinarily that might not mean very much. It was, after all, the first year of the Great Depression. Families of that time often lived apart. Further facts in the lives of the Le Berthon family, however, suggest a split. Any separation between Theodore Le Berthon and his wife became permanent with his death on January 31, 1960, in Fresno, California. Frances E. Hawley Le Berthon died on May 9, 1969, also in Fresno.

So I have begun with Theodore Le Berthon's death. Let me go back to his birth. Get ready for more gossip and scandal.

To be continued . . . 

(1) She was friends with the Kid's eighth wife, dancer and actress Carmen Browder, aka Dagmar Dahlgren or Dalgren, whom he tried to rape two weeks after they were married. For her part, Carmen was married at least four or five times. Kid McCoy (1872-1940) was her second husband. Her dates are uncertain. Wikipedia and The Internet Movie Database say 1880-1951. A source on Rootsweb says 1901-1967. I'm inclined to believe the latter over the former. One of the themes from Part One of the story of Theodore Le Berthon is multiple marriages and divorce. The theme continues today. There will be more of it in Part Three.

Helene Le Berthon and Arthur Gardner in the opening scene in Religious Racketeers (1938). She was all of twenty years old.

Text and captions copyright 2016 Terence E. Hanley

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