Category Archives: Census Records

The lady danced?

The next few days might be a let down for readers, but a bonus for me. Why, you ask? Because apart from Sunday, if you’re lucky, one blog will cover both versions! Tonight, because of the event, and next week, because of the holiday. But for now…

113 years ago today, in a small part of Pottawatomie county, Oklahoma Territory (as it was then, only became a state in 1907), a baby girl was born, to, I assume, a Mr and Mrs Johnson. They seemingly named her Clara Elaine, and the rest, in terms of Hollywood Chorus girl duties, and the like, are history.

Maybe one day, I’ll do more of a dig on Ancestry.com, and discover what her parents names were, and if there were any more brothers and sisters, as well as her. The only tentative suggestion (apart from the lack of birth control back then) that there was more than 1 child, was one of her actual film credits, when there was also a Peter Johnson listed in the cast. Of course, that might simply be a name coincidence, though her 1930 Los Angeles census record did mention 1 brother, so I am inclined to suspect it was probably him.

All I know of the early history is that she moved to LA from Texas in 1925, but when the move there, from Oklahoma, no idea. I need a long enough period of time to really work on Ancestry.com to dig into that sort of matter, and also I need the funds to buy a subscription for a few months at least, that I can get to really use to dig for info. So probably wont happen until I’ve finished working, whenever that is, but then… Even then, I suspect I’m only going to have the 1910, and 1920 census details, so unlikely to find exactly when the Texas moved happened is still going to be vague.

The other thing that needs a major digging through, is a list of marriages in the LA area in the late 30’s (most likely, as her work career seems to stop around 37/38), or perhaps the beginning of the 40’s, because for now, thats where my trail goes cold, with the lack of her married name. Given that her daughter she mentioned would now be in her 70’s, if still alive, it might be fascinating to follow the family tree from there. Probably grand children, and great grand children by now! I wonder if any know, or wonder what Grandma/Great Grandma did?

As I say, if I survive to retirement, and I’m mobile enough to still do it, I suspect it might be my post retirement challenge to try and find out more. I guess that nowadays, I could do a lot from the comfort of a computer at home, anyway?

I must admit, one thing I’d love to do, just once, especially at my age, is do the whole chorus girl thing. My dancing wouldnt be great, I’d probably look less than graceful in one of those flimsy outfits, but my attitude is, just once, I dont care, I want to do the whole Clara Johnson thing! I have 2 lovely friends who are trying to work on making that happen, so who knows, but I hope so?

Anyway, given this was the first year I actually have known her birthday, before the big day, I wasnt going to miss this chance. Its funny to think though, she had all the glamour of working in Hollywood, without any of the fame!

So, happy heavenly birthday, Clara Elaine Johnson, and hopefully, maybe one day, we can get to actually meet, though not in this world.

OK, video time. I have seen her dancing in numerous musicals of the late 20’s, and through the 30’s, including many of the famous ones. For all that, back then, unless they went on to make it, chorus dancers didnt normally get credits. One that Clara did, was a film named Strike Me Pink, though seemingly she was working under her middle name at the time, probably because Clara was a little ‘old fashioned’ name by 1936? Its also the best sighting of her, because she fills the screen between 4:13, and 4:17 in this clip

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Getting myself presentable

Because as they always say about Hollywood, you just never know! Granted, given that isnt the Golden Age any more, the vision of being whisked off the streets of Hollywood, and becoming a movie star are far slimmer than they used to be. Even more so when you’re fast heading towards 60! But fine, miracles might happen…stop laughing!

Well, for the first time in about 18 months, my nails have been ‘painted’ (gel, actually), my brows have been removed again, and I wont be doing a Julia Roberts if I do wear a sleveless dress either! Hopefully some will get that comment at least? And despite a shoulder that seems determined to join my long list of less than perfectly functioning joints, my body has hopefully been massaged into a state where it can survive a near 11 hour flight. Definitely my longest since 2003 (London – Seattle), and maybe the longest, as I’m guessing flights might be slightly faster by now? Anyway…

And yes, I will be the ‘platinum blonde’ after tomorrow morning, when I get my hair done as well. Though in truth, I’m more suitable for Mama Jean, than Baby Jean material nowadays lol. But actually, today, the subject seems to have been about an actress even closer to my heart than Jean Harlow, though far less famous. Yes, Clara Johnson! Discussed her this afternoon while having my body seen to, which started off with asking if I planned to be regressed again to find out more (Yes, definitely, given the chance) and just went on from there. The head massage part, I did wonder if she was trying to get Clara to come out in my mind, there and then!

This morning, she came up, through talking about another actress of that era, and one I plan to see a statue of, while away, Myrna Loy. Yes, the one at Venice High School. Must see it once, for sure.

Unfortunately, for minor actresses (and chorus line dancers) in the late 20’s, and early 30’s, its hard to find much details, as extras, and chorus line girls didnt get credited, unless they made it later, and as she never did…

So fine, at present, I know…
She was born in Oklahoma in 1905. She moved to LA, from Texas in 1925. She was resident in LA in 1930, and declared her career as an actress on the census form that year, living in town with her brother. What happened to her parents, no idea? 1937, her one actual credit in a movie, in an uncredited role in Thin Ice, and thats definite, care of census details, and IMDB for that movie role.
On top of that, apparantly stated in regression, she was already working as a bit part actress by 1928, got married in the late 30’s, had a daughter, and judging by the impression she gave, I would say, died of lung cancer at some point in the early, to mid 50’s. Of course, the marriage makes things impossible to trace, without going through all marriage records for the area, assuming it didnt happen elsewhere. Pretty sure it would have been local, but…

I know this is the wildest question, but if anyone has any idea who she is in Thin Ice, which I guess is unlikely, as there were numerous uncredited roles in that movie, let me know. Sadly I dont know anyone at Fox, so I doubt I could dive into their archives, even if they go back that far! Must have been a contract, a pass picture, or something? Also, if anyone knows someone who could get me back into the room with the LA census records, and/or marriage records for that era, please let me know. If nothing else, the chance to pay my respects, before I left town, would be so precious.

So yes, in a sense, I want to get a message to Clara Johnson to hold on, because I’m still seeking her, wherever she may be resting. Yes, I’ve stood in Jean’s ‘footsteps’ in Kansas City station, I’d love to stand in Clara’s, in Hollywood. Yes, I know…

The video is all about getting that message out, though actually I will have 10 days, and my life wont be through, if its in vain, as I suspect it will be. Unless…?