She had more energy than the now famous energizer bunny.  It propelled her to movie stardom in the 1940s, and kept her on top for ten years.  Then the bottom fell out.

Can you identify this woman?

Hello, everybody.  Joe Morella and Frank Segers, your classic movie guys, here to begin another week with another “name the star” challenge.

We trust this one won’t be too difficult, but just in case, here are some generous clues:

— She won the leading role in the movie version a famous Broadway musical after Judy Garland was “indisposed.” Ethel Merman played the part on the stage.

— Her name at birth was Elizabeth Thornburg.  Her childhood was poverty-stricken.  Her father abandoned the family, and her mother was an alcoholic.  At an early age she sang on street corners and in speakeasies to help support the family.

— The last of her four husbands was a notable jazz trumpeter.

— She made her Paramount debut at 21 in 1941, in a nautically-themed musical. Look magazine declared her an overnight star.

— She had problems with alcohol and an addiction to sleeping pills. She lost what she  estimated to be a $10 million fortune. She tried suicide at least once.

— A big force in her later life was her conversion to Roman Catholicism.  She made headline in the Seventies when she was found working as  a cook and housekeeper in a church rectory in Portsmouth, Rhode Island.

— She was hot tempered.

— She was the star of her own tv series.  It lasted a year.

— In the early Eighties, she went to a New England college, and earned a master’s degree in psychology.  By the late Eighties she was teaching comedy and “oral interpretation” at Boston’s Emerson College.

— She died in 2007 (at 86) at her home in Palm Springs, Cal.

Can you name this star-crossed star?  Let the guessing begin.  Answer next Monday.

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