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
So fine, lets go from the sublime to the ridiculous! Last posting, I was suggesting going full flapper for an evening, probably showing some leg, and even in all likelihood, some knees too. Fine at 20, but at 60, should a lady be more modest in her style? Which leads on to this…
In truth, I couldnt afford to buy clothes at Marks And Spencer, way beyond my budget, and in truth, was even before I had to cut back to a 4 day week! So no, until I saw this article today, I didnt even know they had what they call a ‘Modest Clothing’ section nowadays. Would be great for me, if I could afford any of it, but seemingly, for others, the title seems to be an issue.
Maybe I’m too easy going, and open minded, but I dont see the issue with it, and to say that means that everything else is immodest is just plain crazy. But fine, there are some crazies about, so…? Personally, in the middle of British winter, I appreciate clothing that covers my wrists, and ankles, it helps to keep me warm! I cant vaguely imagine in this country (other than in certain religious groups, maybe?) that people who want to wear respectable, but not figure hiding clothing shouldnt be free to do so, they should be! And lets face it there is a whole difference between dressing like that, and not dressing modestly, in my opinion at least.
I know, maybe in ‘everyday’ mode, I am fairly modest in my clothing looks. Probably comes from my nature, and more so, my age, and also the desire to look neat, and pretty (well, as much as I can!) in what I wear. Oh lets make no bones about it darlings, in my time, I’ve worn short skirts, I’ve worn leather numerous times, and even latex on occasion. Thats all before you start on what I’ve worn when acting, and some of those outfits were definitely weird! No, not saying, not without a huge bribe lol!
Lets be fair, this line isnt aimed at youngsters, and twenty somethings, is it? Lets be honest, Marks and Spencers works to a more mature, generally reasonably wealthy market, and they are probably more modest in look!
So no, sorry, most of their target market wont see it as regressive and wrong, lets face it. And no, modest ladies, please dont take this as an opportunity to say that Ann Summers (and the like) clothing makes women look tarty, because then we’re just as bad as the people complaining about this. Each to their own, I say.
Me, generally I verge on modest, but I do have my moments, boop, boop a doo! Short flapper dress, anyone, for me to wear? 😉 Think I’ll pass on latex clothing nowadays lol!
OK, a video treat tonight, in more senses than one. Who used to wear less than modest clothing in Hollywood? Why the chorus line dancers, of course! And who was one of those, why, Clara Elaine Johnson. Tonight’s piece is actually from Strike Me Pink, one of her 2 credited films, this one as a Goldwyn Girl. Oh, and the girl, with Cantor, at 4:13 on this video, well…? 😉 Yes, Clara is definitely less than modestly dressed lol!