Monrovia News-Post from Monrovia, California on March 5, 1978 · 4
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Monrovia News-Post from Monrovia, California · 4

Publication:
Location:
Monrovia, California
Issue Date:
Sunday, March 5, 1978
Page:
4
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Star of silent screen saga lives quietly in Temple City In an old house in Temple City surrounded by reminders of bygone days lives a timeless little lady named Allene Ray Wheeler Petite and alert her speech still betraying her Texas origin Mrs Wheeler told me about the long-ago days when she worked as an actress in silent films The beamed living room of her home is full of souvenirs of those golden years There are boxes of photographs and old movie magazines and the walls are hung with aging pictures Some of the pictures are of horses including one by Lloyd Mitchell one is a large tinted likeness of Lilian Russell and there is a photograph of Allene in 1920 A fire smoldered in the big brick fireplace and the bright sunlight filtered dimly through Venetian blinds as we chatted Blonde Allene Ray Burch was born in Divine Tex 35 miles from San Antonio She had four sisters and two brothers and her father owned a big ranch At 3 years old she was already learning to ride and at 20 she WU an accomplished horsewoman One of the girls who used to go riding with her was a ticket-seller at a movie theatre and she got a job selling tickets for Allene ' too About this time a man named Harry Myers arrived in Texas to make Western films and he was looking for a girl who could ride well Somebody told him about Allene and he made an appointment to take test pictures of her riding out on the desert "I wasn't even thinking about a career in pictures" she recalls "but he liked me and signed me up to make Westerns We ' made two reels of the first film with Harry as actor producer and director when he was offered a part in "A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court" Off he went saying he'd be back later to finish the picture' However at this time a beauty contest was being run by EV Brewster publisher of the movie magazines "Photoplay" "Shadow land" and "Movie Monthly" Allene's sister submitted a photograph of Allene and the next thing she knew she was the winner for MO The winner the year before had been Clara Bow "Well after I won the beauty contest I got a lot of publicity and Sawyer and Lubin who were agents signed me on a contract" explains Mrs Wheeler "They took over the Western film from Harry Myers put in another leading man and we made two Westerns in Texas They left off my surname and I became known as Allene Ray" Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer bought out the agents' contract The stunt serial artistes Pearl White and Ruth Rowland were quitting and Pathe a French company was looking for another young woman who could do stunts Allene signed a five-year contract with Pathe and took over as their serial heroine She made a lot of films for them riding her horse and doing other stunts such as teetering on the roofs of buildings and jumping into lakes Serials ran in 10 episodes with each of the first nine ending in some hair-raising predicament for the heroine "They didn't hire stunt men and women By MARGARET GRIFFITH-JONES Foothills Junior High School PTA is sponsoring its annual Father-Son Night on Tuesday March 7 at 7:30 pm in the school caletorium The Hobie Professional Skateboard Team will give a demonstration of skateboard safety special routines and tricks Last winter the Hobie team conducted safety clinics for over 85000 students in Southern California In the summer they toured the East Coast the South and Canada teaching safe and sane skateboarding using the theme "Skate Safe and Have Fun" The PTA is presenting team members Skitch In those days" states Mrs Wheeler "We did our own I started as second lead and worked up to lead I was never an extra I played as second lead in several movies with William Russell I did "Galloping Hooves" with Johnny Miller and I played in 'Prodigal Daughters" with Gloria Swanson and Mervyn LeRoy I never missed getting a job ' Th0 titles of her movies are delightful reminders of those glamorous early days of the film world Some of them were versions of popular novels of the time They included "The Green Archer" "Partners of the Sunset" "The Yellow Cameo" "The Way of a Man" "The Fortieth Door" "Sunbeam Silver" "The House Without a Key" "Snowed In" "Melting Millions" "The Hawk of the Hills" "Ten Scars Make a Man" "Sunken Silver" and "The Man Without a Face" The last one "The Indians are Coming" in which she played with Tim McCoy was made during the depression in The early 1930s and "talkies" were starting to take over "The Indians are Coming" was made in two versions both as a silent and as a talking film and it was the last silent Western serial ever made Tim McCoy died on Jan 29 of this year He was 87 Her photographs of this period show Allene as pretty and slight her delicate features and build belying the rough-andtough image of the serial stuntwoman She used to receive adoring fan letters from her admirers and one interviewer in "Movie Monthly" of September 1925 wrote "Her hair is of that flaxen shade and texture which you once read about in old folk tales and her eyes are grey very large Her voice is low and her manners gentle I thought of her at once as a lovely cameo strangely strayed from its plush setting" In 1925 Allene had married William "Larry" Wheeler and after "The Indians are Coming" she left the movie lots "We moved out here to Temple City on Hallowe'en 1940 and we homesteaded our property here" she remembers "My husband was a real estate broker and for a time I worked at I Magnin's first as a seamstress and then as a fitter Then my husband developed cancer so I attended real estate school and passed my test as a broker so I could help him in his business I used to go out and do the measuring and drawing of plans while he stayed in the office and did the desk work although he was very ill In 1958 he died aged 63" After her husband's death Mrs Wheeler kept the real estate business for some time retiring in 1955 She is still interested in movies and watches them on TV says she always goes out to vote and she likes to repair and refinish old furniture She is also a member of Temple City Creative Arts and likes to paint The erstwhile star of the silver screen is now busy with a new project She has sold her home and land retaining a small part of it on which to build a new house She is busy sorting out her belongings "I'm very busy" she says "I have to go through all this stuff and decide which things to take to the new house You'll have to come and see it when it's built" I intend to SKATEBOARD FUN — Jeff Wilson Brian Storrs and Steve Knapp get into practice for Foothill Junior High School's PTA Father-Son Night program on skateboarding scheduled for Tuesday March 7 at 7:30 pm in the cafetorium Skateboard team to demonstrate safety Hitchcock Mike Weed and Bob Skoldberg in one of their first programs since returning from a tour of Europe Tickets for the event are $1 each and may be obtained at the school office For the five days preceding March 7 PTA members will have tickets on sale in the school patio "All boys attending Foothills are encouraged to invite their fathers grandfathers uncles or come with a friend's father for an evening of fun entertainment and refreshments" said Mary Ann Wilson chairman There will also be many door prizes including a $75 Hobie board THEN AND NOW — Above Allene Ray as she looked in the 1920s Below still surprisingly youthful Allene Ray Wheeler as she looks 50 years later — Staff Photo by Louis Nunez RUMMAGING FOR FUNDS — Caye Wells (left) co-chairman Betty Maher and Sandra Munson gather donations of rummage for the Arcadia High School Alumni Association's annual rummage sale scheduled for Saturday March 11 in the south gym of the school Donations of toys clothing books tools or any other unwanted items are needed and may be left in the alumni bin or picked up All donations are tax deductible and forms are available from chairmen Sandy Munson and Caye Wells For pickup of donations call 445-7928 445- 1971 or the school 446- °131 Attorney former mayor speaker for AAUW "Women as Agents of Change" will be the topic of guest speaker Lila Cox at the meeting of the American Association of University Women on Monday March 13 at 7:45 pm in the Art and Lecture A'f?t 411 LILA COX Room of the Arcadia Public Library Her subject is one of the topics being studied by all branches of the AAUW throughout the country The purpose of the study is to try to determine values fribooa&r:11"fferg7j'rkgmesomA0wk:::ii0''MbkASIRP"'- GALLOPING HOOVES — Allene Ray as she appeared in some of her Western serials when she starred on the silent screen in many roles For a number of these she had to do her own stunts a dangerous business in the nation the community and the home and to work to implement these policies through responsible participation Mrs Cox an attorney employed by the Southern Pacific Transportation Company speaks from a background of varied experience She reared two - daughters and helped in her husband's business before studying law She has served as mayor of South Pasadena and is a former president of both the Business and Professional Woman's Club and the South Pasadena Woman's Club She has also been active in the Chamber Of Commerce and has served on a number of civic committees A business meeting to be conducted by Doris Illnland president of the Arcadia branch will precede the program The social hour hostess committee will be from the Foothills-Highland Neighborhood group with Elaine Hoffman as chairman eople A-4— Sunday March 5 1971 4 LN-1:4listfti — ' c:7 ' 0-- ' 1-- —z1-4 I p':4 '1 ti — Staff Photo by Louis Nunez RAIN MAKERS? — Carl Jefferson and Jill Reinhardt prepare for the Job's Daughters Bethel 121 Car Wash slated for Saturday March II from 9 am to 5 pm at the Standard Station in Temple City Proceeds from the benefit will go to the club's activities and special projects ::: ! 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