How much did you know about Republic and Herbert Yates?
That stern looking gent pictured above is Yates himself, who glued together Republic Pictures in 1935. He was a tough, visionary businessman but a hopeless romantic personally.
Yates is now perhaps best known for being the longtime paramour of Vera Ralston, a Czech-born actress import almost four decades his junior. Yates fell madly in love, dumped his wife and children to marry her, and arranged for Ralston to appear in nearly two dozen Republic releases.
The result was uneven. By one count only two of her films returned a profit. When Yates died in 1966, he left the bulk of his multi-million-dollar estate to Ralston. She lived on — offscreen — in Southern California until her death in 2003. (For more on Ralston, see tomorrow’s blog.)
Now, on to the answers to our Republic Pictures Quiz.
- Question: John Wayne supposedly had a clause in his contract that he would never appear with this female costar. Who was she? a) Judy Canova; b) Vera Ralston; c) Joan Crawford; or d) Marlene Dietrich.
Answer: You guessed it, (b) Vera Ralston.
2) Question: Republic became known for it ample output of westerns requiring the development of which of these stars? a) Roy Rogers; b) Gene Autrey; c) Rex Allen; or d) William (Hopalong Cassidy) Boyd.
Answer: a), b) and c). All three were nurtured at Republic. Boyd was nurtured elsewhere.
3) Question: Which one of these bigger budget productions did NOT originate in the Republic hopper? a) 1956’s The Maverick Queen; b) 1952’s The Quiet Man; c) 1954’s Johnny Guitar; or d) 1949’s Sands of Iwo Jima?
Answer: Oops, another of our trick questions. ALL these pictures were released by Republic. Not bad for a “grade B” studio.
4) Question: Republic notably backed one production directed by Orson Welles, who also starred in the picture? Can you name its title?
Answer: As shown above, the picture was 1948’s adaptation Shakespeare’s Macbeth with Welles producing, directing and starring in. Yates wanted to upgrade Republic’s image at the time and thought this would be a suitable title. The budget was limited to about $700,000.
5) Question: Founder Yates was intent at all costs at resisting Hollywood censorship of movie plots since his studio was a full fledged “exploitation” producer. a) True; or b) False.
Answer: b) False. Yates was compliant with the dictates of the Hays Office. He was not one to rock the boar in this respect.