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May 10 07 5:16 AM
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I also thought Luana Walters was really pretty and had the neatest eyes.
Aug 13 08 6:21 AM
Dale Evans was a pretty woman and easily the most famous Western B-gal and she embraced the genre of the B-s. She is my pick.
Aug 19 08 2:17 PM
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Aug 20 08 3:39 AM
Watching these films made me a fan of Beth Marion. She was not only beautiful, but she was a surprisingly good actress who really held her own against some
of the most popular western stars of the 1930s. She is also one of the few survivors of this most fascinating and often overlooked part of motion picture
Miss Marion made a little over a dozen movies between 1934 and 1938 before her career ended when she married stuntman Cliff Lyons. Although her adventure in
films was short lived, she will long be remembered as one of the B westerns' top leading ladies. I recently had the pleasure of getting to meet Beth Marion
Koch and her husband Julian (as nice a man as you could ever want to meet). Married almost 45 years, the couple invited me into the home Julian designed and
built in 1982 on a mountainside, eight miles from historic Jacksonville, Oregon. Here I interviewed her and learned about her life and career in Hollywood in
MB : Where were you born?
Beth Marion: In Iowa. Clinton, Iowa. July 11, 1912. I'm proud of my age, very proud of it, but I don't go around telling it
because, you know, people get to thinking of you as an age. I heard one time, "How old would you be if you didn't know how old you were?"
I've often wondered if in primitive cultures they know how old they are.
MB: I would say you seem very young.
Beth Marion: Well, thank you. As I say, I'm proud of it. Now my [painting] class doesn't know my age, but anyone can judge it, and
that is why I don't care, and I just kind of have fun not telling them. They know I did movies, and they all know when they were made, so I'm not
kidding anyone. But I just don't flaunt it.
So, I was born in 1912 in Clinton, Iowa. My mom had to work at the time until she remarried when I was about 13. My stepdad legally adopted me, and later I
went to Northwestern [University in Evanston, Illinois]. I didn't graduate. I started working half way through, and then I just came out to California. I
had done a little theater around Chicago.
MB: Had you always been interested in acting?
Beth Marion: Well, yes, because of my background and my mother's ... and in high school I always managed to lead in the play. My mother
was an actress years before in Shakespearean repertory, and in fact she came clear out West when she was 18. I don't know how she got permission from my
Grandma and Grandpa! They always told this story about how Mother was so embarrassed because Grandpa made her tote a great big heavy knotted rope in her
suitcase, you know, heavy as all get out, and someone would pick it up thinking they were gonna help her with her stuff, and it would be like lead! She carried
it because of fire, you see. They had knotted rope, if you were [caught in a hotel fire] you could go down the rope. She talked about going to Bakersfield by
stagecoach, and she said she played Shakespeare to Indians who couldn't understand a word of it. She had quite a history! Then she married an actor, my own
dad. She always said there wasn't a mean bone in his body, but he didn't really support us later. That was when divorce wasn't considered nice, but
she did divorce him. Not an angry divorce, but she just didn't want to support him.
I have a half brother. Our dad's the same dad. His name is George Paul. His real name is George Paul Goettsche, like our father. He directs and produces
20/20. We are not close at all, but my granddaughter, who was a private eye for a while, checked around and found him. He called me, and we had a visit on the
phone, and then I sent him pictures.
MB: Did you get a chance to meet him in person?
Beth Marion: I saw him when he was a baby.
MB: Did you stay in touch with your father?
Beth Marion: Tried. Well, for the first number of years until I was 10 or so, he'd pick me up and we'd go to the Palace, a
vaudeville show or something like that. But he wasn't real good at keeping in touch.
MB: Goettsche is your real name.
Beth Marion: Oh Michael, I've had 5 names, and I've only been married twice. (laughs)
MB: Plus Betty Lloyd! [Beth was inexplicably billed as Betty Lloyd in "Wild Horse Roundup"]
Beth Marion: Yes, plus Betty Lloyd! And for a real short while a numerologist gave me the name of Dolores Dryden, and I had some publicity
as Dolores Dryden, and if that's not a far off thing ... it sounds like a real dark complected, or dark Latin type of showgirl or something. So, I've
had a lot of names!
MB: What was your first film?
Beth Marion: Between Men (1934) was the first movie I ever worked on. It was one we did before Screen Actors Guild, and we worked 24 hours
MB: They must have worked pretty fast on those movies.
Beth Marion: Oh, yes! They ran 5 to 10 days. They were real quickies, and Between Men was straight through for 24 hours.
MB: Did you do any non-western films?
Beth Marion: Just little teeny bits, and I did one movie short with a man who was a dancer in New York. I went down there to look for
something in the theater, and I got the first job I went for, which was a summer stock. I was thrilled to death to get that job, but I had also done a reading
for Stage Door. I had gone on to my summer stock job, and the next day I got a notice to come in to do a final reading for Stage Door for the legitimate stage.
So that was the one "what if." If I hadn't gotten the summer stock for 10 weeks, and if I'd gone back for the final reading, I might have
gotten Stage Door, and, well ... that sent Ginger Rogers on her way! But anyway I did quite a bit of little theater. I started out in little theater around
Chicago, and then I sang in a trio. We were called the Co-Eds. I was the only one of the girls in the Co-Eds that was theatrically interested. So then
eventually I came out to California. I had always wished we had recorded. It was a nice trio, and we sang a lot of different things.
MB: Did you get a chance to sing in any of your movies?
Beth Marion: No, not in any of my movies. That reminds me that Ken Maynard was one that loved to play his fiddle, and so he managed to play
his fiddle in everything he did, I think.
MB: Tell me about "Wild Horse Roundup" with Kermit Maynard.
Beth Marion: Oh, yes, they have me listed as Betty Lloyd in that one, and we don't have any idea ... where the Betty Lloyd slipped in.
I never went as Betty Lloyd. That would be the only movie. That name was only there by mistake.
MB: "Rip Roarin' Buckaroo' was with Tom Tyler.
Beth Marion: It happened that I just about did two films with each person I worked with. That's the way it kind of ended up. I did two
with Tom, two with Ken Maynard, Buck Jones ...
MB: Did you have any favorite leading man?
Beth Marion: No. (chuckles)
MB: Any you didn't care for?
Beth Marion: Well ... actually I met a bad husband on Between Men. That was a bad incident! And one guy-I won't talk about the incident
because he turned out to be a very nice person, Johnny Mack Brown. They were just all very wild types of guys, and I was scared to death to go on the picture
with Ken Maynard because I had heard he shot out the lights up at the Lone Pine, and he was a wild one!
MB: He was a bit of a drinker.
Beth Marion: Ya, terrible. A lot of them were. He didn't like my type of woman. He liked tramp women, but his last wife was very nice.
I was a close friend of Kermit Maynard's wife. After I met her and all of that, we became close friends. Now the oldest friend I have, as far as living
relationships, is Audrey Canutt.
MB: Her husband was the legendary stuntman, Yakima Canutt.
Beth Marion: I met her on Between Men up in Lone Pine on location, and she and her little boy, who was a couple of years old, and now he is
in his 60s I guess. This relationship has gone on all these years, and we talk on the phone still. Recently I tried to help her sell "Stuntman."
It's a book on Yak, and they took some at Barnes and Noble. So Yak was very well known. Cliff Lyons was my first husband's name, and he's mentioned
in a lot of things.
MB: He was a stuntman?
Beth Marion: Yes, but that was an arduous, hard marriage for 16 years.
MB: Back to favorite western stars.
Beth Marion: Well, let me see. To tell you the truth, they made these movies so fast we really didn't have time to fraternize. I
remember on one of these movies Ward Bond drove my stunt double and me from Lone Pine back to L.A. Ward was a nice fellow, and he drove very fast in those
days. I found out later that he had epilepsy, and that really scared me when I thought about it, with his driving and all! We were good friends, because of
Cliff, with a little fellow named Frankie McGrath. He was a double. He was in a TV series later where Frankie played the cook. It was Wagon Train. Ward Bond
was the lead, and Frankie was the cook. We were quite close friends, and his wife, who was an RN, was my nurse several times when I went through some bad
health. Frankie was a nice little guy, but I can't remember any other fraternizing that I did. In fact, I feel real badly because recently I had a letter
from someone, and he wanted me to do the forward for a book of his on Bob Steele. I would be the last person in the world to do a forward. I don't remember
any incidences with Bob except that he was a nice guy. But I could never do a forward ... and I lost his letter, and I feel very bad about that.
MB: Regarding Bob Steele, he was kind of short for a western star.
Beth Marion: Oh, he was very short, yes. He was little. At that time I was about 5 ft. 5 ½ inches. I'm not any more! But he was even
shorter than I. They tried to keep it from showing.
Now Jack Luden ... one of my fans that I have told me that Jack ended up dying in the penitentiary. I don't really know why he was there.
MB: It is surprising what happened to some of your leading men.
Beth Marion: I felt sad about Johnny Mack Brown later. He was just a ma"tre d' at a restaurant, and I went in this one time while
we were still living there in California, my present husband and I, and I don't know to this day why I wouldn't make myself known to Johnny. You know,
I thought, well, maybe he would rather I didn't recognize him. I didn't know what to do. He didn't look very good, you know, but he showed us to
the table. Wouldn't you have wondered what to do? That's why I didn't, but then I was always sorry I didn't. I met his daughter not too long
ago. There was a festival in Sonora [California] that we were invited to go to, and his daughter had a big part in getting it together. She was very nice.
MB: Buck Jones.
Beth Marion: Now, we all know he died in a fire [in 1942]. Buck was nice. I started dating the assistant producer on the Buck Jones'
pictures, a very nice man. He tried to warn me about Cliff, my first husband! My friend went on Buck's sailing races in Hawaii, because Buck used to sail a
lot. Buck was a real nice guy.
MB: He also directed one of your movies.
Beth Marion: Oh, did he?
MB: In "For the Service" (1936) he is listed as director and producer.
Beth Marion: Oh ya? Well, maybe, could be. I probably just didn't know that part of it. I did my little thing, and that was it.
MB: And Bob Steele was born here in Oregon.
Beth Marion: Oh, yes? Well, he was nice, and he had a very, very nice wife. She was a close friend of Audrey Canutt. She just died a couple
of years ago, Bob's first wife. I say first because I don't know if they stayed married.
MB: How About Tom Tyler?
Beth Marion: He told me some kinds of personal things which I can't tell you, but he was very in love with his little wife. He drove me
from location several times. He was very nice. You know that he had been a boxing champ or something like that. That was his entre into pictures. Then he
became ill, bad ulcers or something. He really had bad health.
MB: Did you ever have problems with producers or directors who got a little fresh?
Beth Marion: No, the only one ... well, I'll tell you this story [if you don't use his name]. It was after shooting hours and all.
The director and a girl, and [anonymous western star], and I were going to ride up to Lone Pine or Independence or something. It was a beautiful night, and
this guy really started to get fresh. So, I just drug my nails down through his hand. Well, the next day ... you know, they are so careful about what door you
came in, where your hat was, and all that stuff and [this actor] had to wear gloves, and he hadn't worn gloves the day before, you see. So it almost caused
a big problem.
The worst thing I ran across, it was a real heartbreaker, was an agent who wrecked my chances for a test at MGM. So, it [predatory sex in Hollywood] really
was all it was cracked up to be. I understand though it isn't just in that profession, but I never had this experience in other lines of work. I guess
whenever someone is seemingly powerful, you can have these problems. That is why I was grateful when Jimmy Stanley came along and got me all these
MB: Jimmy Stanley was your agent?
Beth Marion: Yes, he was the one that got me all the westerns. I'd like to know whatever happened to him, a nice guy!
MB: As a B-western actress did you get to attend the Hollywood Parties?
Beth Marion: Oh, I went to those before I was even working very much, and I'd meet people. Oh, I met, for instance, William Frawley. He
was a very nice man. Here is a good Hollywood story. When I came out to California these friends of mine back home had a friend called Leo McCarey, a very well
known director. They said, "Oh, I'll have you get in touch with Leo, he is so nice, and he can help." So, I got in touch with Leo McCarey, and he
said to come over to the studio about 5 o'clock and meet him for dinner. So, I got over to the studio, and they came off the set, and he said we're
going to go to dinner with William Frawley. Bless his heart, William was such a nice man, and he was with us, and we all went out to dinner. No mention of
helping me or connections or anything. So, anyway, Mr. McCarey would call and ask would I come over at 5 o'clock again. So, I thought, well, maybe tonight
he'll say something about something. I mean he knew my connection, you know. I told him, but he never did a thing to help. In fact, he suggested this one
night that he was gonna become amorous. "Well," I thought, "there go my chances!" The irony of the whole thing was that when I got back to
Chicago and my friends asked, "Oh, did you look up Leo?" and I said, "Oh, yes, I did." "Well, the thing that we just love about Leo,
is he is so devoted to his wife ..." And I just thought, "Oh sure!" So those are disappointments.
MB: What other performers did you admire?
Beth Marion: I admired Ingrid Bergman. I always wished I could have met her. I worked on a film with Joan Crawford, just a tiny role, but I
got to observe her. She was very much "the star."
Down at my art class they talk about all the new people. Gosh, I am getting so out of touch now. Years ago, I thought it was awful that my one blessed aunt,
when I mentioned Clark Gable, and she didn't seem to know who he was, and I thought, "How could you not know who he was!" Well, it's the same
thing now with me. A lot of the new ones I don't know.
MB: Were you a fan of westerns?
Beth Marion: No, not at all!
MB: How did you end up in them?
Beth Marion: Well, the agent that I had just got me started in westerns. Actually, I don't even admire most cowboys, though I don't
tell that to my friend Audrey, as I did think a lot of Yak.
MB: Were you experienced with horses?
Beth Marion: I had never ridden horseback before. I went out, and I learned how to mount and dismount, but they cut the parts where I rode.
They kept cutting those scenes shorter and shorter because I really didn't look all that great riding. I had doubles on certain things, that's how I
met Cliff. The girl he was going with was my double, Ione Reed. She was a nice girl, but they still would let the girls, like myself, do things that we
shouldn't have done, just to save money. I was never a real outdoor girl!
MB: It seems ironic that all your movies were westerns. You would have been good in comedies.
Beth Marion: Oh, I would have liked that. My stepdad, and this is flattering myself, said he never watched Lucille Ball without thinking
MB: In "Rip Roarin' Buckaroo" you got to show a comedic side.
Beth Marion: I wished I had done more like that one. My career came to a very abrupt end because of my first marriage. That is one reason I
say it wasn't a very nice marriage. I have two nice sons from it however!
MB: Cliff did not want you in films.
Beth Marion: Oh, no. He was a jealous man. I cut my life off for a long time. Honestly, ever since I moved up here to Oregon ... there is
so much drama over there in Ashland [home of the Oregon Shakespeare Festival] I would just love to have gone on and done a little theater, but you get to the
stage where I would be just too afraid. I was a very quick study, still might be a quick study, but I was just afraid of my mind not snapping, remembering
lines, you know. There are just too many things that I grope for now, names and words. I don't know if it has to do with age. I don't like to think so,
but I do think so (laughs)! But I was afraid of that, and I didn't want to go through the nervousness of an opening night. I thrived on it back then.
That's why I liked legitimate theater.
MB: In the majority of your films you were the only female.
Beth Marion: As a rule, yes. I was always kind of surprised that my characters even had an actual name, you know, when they show who you
are in the credits. I never knew the name of them during the filming. Now in Silver Spurs (1936) I was the second lead.
MB: Muriel Evans was the lead, do you remember anything about her?
Beth Marion: Well, very little. I had very little contact with her.
MB: Were any of your friends at that time in show business.
Beth Marion: Oh, yes. I was living with Eleanor Stewart. She's still alive. We finally got to a festival together in Memphis a couple
of years ago. She and I knew each other at Northwestern, and when we came out to Hollywood she and I lived together, and we were both doing westerns. She
worked with Hoot Gibson and did some serials.
MB: Do you still keep in touch?
Beth Marion: Yes. It was really fun to go to the Memphis festival, as we hadn't seen each other in a while. She's a dear gal. We
had lots of fun.
MB: "Silver Spurs" and "For the Service" (1936) were made by Universal.
Beth Marion: Well, they were released by Universal. They were cheapies, and then they were released through a different company.
MB: Do you have a favorite amongst your movies? A favorite to make, or a favorite to watch?
Beth Marion: Not a favorite to make. I think the Tom Tyler one, Rip Roarin' Buckaroo, is a favorite, and Everyman's Law is pretty
MB: Do you still hear from fans?
Beth Marion: Oh gosh, it's unbelievable. Especially when I started going to the festivals. What started me going was this man, Peter
Collinson. He started the whole ball rolling. He had seen some of my movies, and so he wrote me a fan letter, and it put me in the circle. I started getting
fan letters, and then I got the invitations for the festivals, so it was amazing. To this day, occasionally, I will get a new letter from someone. But I am
terrible at writing to my own family. I am just not a letter writer, and I am not an internetter either, because I don't know how! But I still hear from
people, and you know one of the girls in my art class was so excited because she had seen on tv, on Matinee at the Bijou [on PBS], one of my old films, and she
was just tickled.
MB: So now you are involved in painting.
Beth Marion: Oh, yes! I just plain decided when we moved up here. I was away from all my friends, you know. I decided to either go back and
take music ... my husband is really the frustrated musician, he loves his keyboard, he plays it every day. I just chose art. So, I started taking classes, and
I love it!
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My two picks for "sexiest western heroine" have to be Jennifer Holt and Helen Talbot. While in private life, they were very classy ladies, on the
screen they gave the hero something to think about. Helen was a fashion model and pin-up girl before going into movies and told me about appearing with a USO
troupe in the South Pacific. She was riding with a group in a jeep when they ran off the road and got stuck. They told her to get out and go up on the road
and flag down the first truck or jeep that came along. I don't know how she was dressed but I would imagine she wore khaki shorts with a top and her lovely
blonde hair tied up in a scarf. Suddenly she saw a cloud of dust coming down the road. It was a tank. She waved her arms to get them to stop and when the G.I.
stuck his head out, all he could do was stammer. These guys probably hadn't seen an attractive woman for a while and Helen must have seem liked a mirage.
They got pulled out of the ditch and later at a party, the C.O.came over and introduced himself. "So you're the young lady my boys were talking
about. I couldn't even understand what they were saying ....they were stammering." Helen appeared in a 1944 Yank magazine dressed as an M.P. Jenny
Holt had the most beguiling eyes and smile that would engratiate even an eight old boy who hadn't startedto think about girls yet.
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