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
You know something? How you sometimes feel that nothing is going to work out for you, and all that? Oh fine, after today, maybe I can still be a chorus line dancer in a Hollywood musical? OK, seriously, that isnt going to happen, but at the same time, something good might happen soon, more in the near future on that, I hope. Alright, Adriana, or Angie, I might at some point soon dress up like a dancer, but I’m not going to turn into Ginger Rodgers overnight!
But yes, had a couple of feel good moments that happened today, that make you do believe anything is possible. Strictly, one of these happened yesterday evening, California time, but here in the UK, it was early hours of this morning.
A few days ago, in the world of baseball, in an event that no one beyond his family, and friends would have noticed, The Los Angeles Angels called up a back up catcher, named Francisco Arcia. Well yes, fine, players get called up every day, and all that, so…? The significant thing here is, this guy has been playing Minor League Baseball for 12 years, never been in danger of the call up to the Major League, and all that. Then the Angels traded a player away, and for reasons best known to themselves, they called up Arcia to the ‘big boys’.
Thing is, in his first 2 games, he’s taken 5 of his 8 bats for hits, had a home run, and batted in 10 runs for his team. For a super prospect, this would all be quite something. For a guy who has spent 12 years in various minor league teams, totally unnoticed, its really quite something! Now I’m not saying this will last, or that he will become an All Star or anything, but for a player who had probably given up on the big dream by now, he must feel like he’s in heaven!
The other 2 feelgood stories from today both relate to golf. The European tour was in Germany this week, and the tournament was won by a player most wouldnt have heard of, Richard McEvoy. This was his 285th tournament on the main tour, had never won one before. He did have 1 second, 1 third, but that was it. Today, he won! Now, to be fair, he has got a few wins on lesser tours, but until today, he was so far down the rankings, he was struggling to retain his playing rights for next year. Now, for 2 and a half years, no issue!
The other from the same tournament? There was a German amateur player, by the name of Allen John, and by the end of today’s play, he was joint runner up. No prize money, as an amateur, but the prestige… He turned pro in 2011, and his career was so ‘good’, he gave up, and became an amateur again! Got an invite, as a local this week, and almost took the event by storm! Oh, did I say, he’s 30, and profoundly deaf! Just shows you, if you’re determined enough, nothing can stop your dream.
Who, me? Audition for Broadway, or Hollywood, I dont think so now! But if I really still wanted to, and put my mind to it, well, maybe…? Kudos to all 3 of these guys, anyway
The video lyrics, so untrue for this trio, as it happened for all of them today.
Fine, for those privileged to see both blogs tonight, you’ve got one serious one, and a silly one. Of course, in either case, if you only know of one, or the other, well, its pot luck, in that case! In case you needed tipping off, this is the serious one.
Today I got to find out where I’d be changing on Saturday, for my ‘performance’ as an Edwardian Lady in Blackpool, in the chorus girl changing room at the pier! Yes, who could I possibly know who would have changed regularly in such a place? Hmm, Clara Johnson, just maybe? But no, having either always worked in school plays, am dram, and the (very rare) theater, I’ve never had the delight of being a chorus girl. Played a number of girl parts, long before transitioning, but in this life, a chorus girl, oh I wish!
So, unsurprisingly yes, I’m looking forward to this moment more than I probably should, even though my outfit will be far less revealing than anything thats normally worn on the chorus line at Blackpool, or in all likelihood, anything Clara got to wear, in that sense! I mean, some of her outfits were relatively normal, but revealing, though others were crazy, and revealing! One of them shortly, honest… I do suspect that if ‘someone’ gets her chance, in November, I’ll probably get to wear something that would make Clara giggle, blush, or both! Yes, I probably will, even at my age, just because it would be fun, however silly it might look. So fine, A, if you can find something in my size, bring it on!
I think its fair to say that I’m going to walk out of that dressing room in an outfit that a chorus girl would be unlikely to wear, given the era its from. I suspect that even if they’d made a musical based in the Edwardian era, that the outfits that the girls wore would be more revealing than mine, lol. But equally, wouldnt it be funny if I walked out of that changing room, went through a time warp, and out walked a young dancer, wearing not a lot, onto a Hollywood studio dance stage? As long as I had Clara’s dance skills too, at least!
“Yes, Mr Berkeley, I’m ready for my dance routine.”
Sorry, Miss Swanson, couldnt resist pinching that idea! Yes, other than maybe A, I suspect this is as close as I will ever get to chorus girl life!
Right, video time. Among the numerous movies that Clara danced in, was one called Footlight Parade. Why I’ve picked this one is simple, earlier today, someone posted a picture of 13 chorines from that movie, pictured in a row, and asked if anyone knew any of them. Yes, you guessed it, one of them was Clara! So… And also, yes, she is seen in one of those cute, crazy cat outfits in this number. So…Yes, Ruby Keeler, and Dick Powell star, but there among the cat girls…
OK, so I worked the title to suit the video here, but I’ll include a mention of a certain chorus line dancer, and her various troupes, just to make it work.
As far as I know, no woman has been told to flaunt her body, albeit in the cause of entertainment, without being willing to do so. And no, the President Club hostesses werent given the full picture of what would happen, thats for sure. But any cheerleader, or walk on girl knows what they are at a sporting event for, and in the case of most, getting well paid for, and thats to add ‘an image’ to said event. I have no idea what these young ladies get paid for doing so at F1 races, boxing, US sports, and other sports get paid, but I suspect its a decent wage? Oh, and in the case of certain events, publicity too!
Yes, lets face it, if I was young, pretty, and had all the right bits, in the right places, I’d probably give it a go, and enjoy the experience. Fine, I’m elderly, and not currently owning all the right bits, but fine, if someone can arrange me a twenty something body, and some cute looks, try stopping me, if I got the chance.
Thats why I was sad to read today that the PDC Darts people have bowed to pressure from a Feminist group, and decided to drop the walk on girls, and said group has instantly turned on other sports, now they can sense blood. I am Feminist, but to a sensible degree, seeking equality, not superiority, as some seem to think it should be. Now if these girls were forced to do these roles, then fair enough, its wrong, but if you’re happy to show yourself a little, for publicity, and pay, then go for it.
Thankfully, some are trying to keep these girls in work, good for them. Cant see it, in these PC days, but I can hope.
I know it was a different era, with different attitudes, but seriously, some of the outfits (some were barely outfits, at least one movie, the outfit was a long blonde wig!) those chorus girls wore, revealed far, far more! Did they care? Probably not, they were earning decent money, at a time when many Americans were struggling with the depression. But yes, some happily stayed on the chorus line, a number became stars,and others got to marry rich men, who they got to know through their work.
But yes, there are times I’m sorry to see myself as a Feminist, and this is one of them.
Video? Pretty obvious, I hope?