As regular reader Graham Hill commented yesterday, Madeleine Carroll (despite four failed marriages) on screen appeared to be so gentle and loving, but like so many movie stars never found that in her personal life.
Yes, she was a complex woman who, among other things, quit her movie career near its peak to do her bit to support the good guys in World War II. She also had a surprisingly varied professional life starting off as “The Queen of British Cinema” in the 1930’s.
In Hollywood, she was a successful leading lady often in costume dramas but also in an occasional comedy with Bob Hope. She was always gorgeous and always a lady.
Now to the answers to our Madeleine Carroll Quiz:
1) Question: Carroll is perhaps best remembered for literally being handcuffed to which one of the following actors in this signature Hitchcock’s thriller. a) John Gielgud; b) Robert Donat; c) Peter Lorre; or d) Robert Young.
1) Answer: b) We are referring, of course, to Alfred Hitchcock’s 1935 espionage thriller The 39 Steps. The movie is ranked by the British Film Institute as the fourth best British film of the 20th century. Don’t miss Carroll’s performance nor the turn taken by the character she is handcuffed to, played by Robert Donat.
2) Question: By the mid-1930’s, Carroll was deeply frustrated because she was making bigger and bigger pictures but being paid less and less. a) True; or b) False.
2) Answer: b) False. Because she was such a big star in England, Carroll came to Hollywood with a handsome price tag attached. She was not underpaid. Legend has it that she earned $250,000 in 1938 — in the midst of the Great Depression.
3) Question: Carroll interrupted her movie career in the early Forties because a) Her pictures bombed at the box office; b) She tired of Hollywood and the tedium of movie-making; c) She decided to take up nursing for the Red Cross during World War II; or d) The studios refused to pay her more.
3) Answer: c) After her sister was killed in a London bombing raid, Carroll interrupted her acting career for a time to become a Red Cross nurse in the war effort, serving in England and France (for which she later received official recognition from the French government). There was a price exacted: by the mid-Forties, her Hollywood movie career was largely over.
4) Question: Carroll’s second husband was a 6-foot-5 actor born in New Jersey as John Hamilton. Who is this big fella? a) Gregory Peck; b) Rock Hudson; c) Sterling Hayden; or d) Guy Madison.
4) Answer: c) As mentioned, Carroll’s personal life was turbulent. She was married and divorced four times. One of her husbands was the then ruggedly, handsome, 6-foot-5 actor Sterling Hayden (born in Montclair, New Jersey as John Hamilton). Hayden was 10 years younger that Carroll, who used her influence to land him a studio contract. The two costarred in director Edward H.Griffith’s Virginia in 1940 and Bahama Passage in 1941. Her last husband, Andrew Heiskell, was chairman and CEO of Time Inc. After their marriage ended in 1965, Madeleine Carroll retired, presumably blissfully as a single, ex-film-star, spending a lot of her time in Marbella, Spain where she died at 81 of pancreatic cancer in October 1987.
5) Question: With her career on the wane, Carroll actually found herself playing opposite Bob Hope and a roller-skating penguin in a wacky and eminently forgettable comedy. a) True; or b) False.
5) Answer: a) True. Carroll wound up working with Bob Hope when she was cast as Karen Bentley, a British secret agent linking up with a down-on-his-luck vaudevillian — whose onstage partner is a roller-skating penguin by the name of Percy — in 1942’s My Favorite Blonde, a whacky concoction by writers Norman Panama and Melvin Frank. Hope was a very big star at the time, so this was no comedown.