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/:TRODUCING Shirley Ann Richards. Grey-eyed, brown haired, with clear, olive skin, snarkline white teeth, and a

delicious smile. Age — just 19. Not that the introduction is really necessary. You've met Shirley Ann, brownette hope of Australian films, in the Cecil Kellaway extravaganza It Isn't Done, and again in Tall Tim bers, in which she makes romance most fiery with good-looking young Frank Leighton. . the musical comedy favorite. Shirley Ann — if she will pardon the familiarity — is practically the only Australian girl to stay in the Com monwealth alter scoring a definite film success; Cinesound has wisely put its pride and joy under a long term contract. Practically all the others have left for overseas immediately after win ning their screen spurs in Australia; some, indeed, have made their entire film careers outside the Common wealth. ? ? ? J7OR instance, there is 32-year-old Betty Stockfeld, born in New South Wales, who made both her stage and her screen debut in London. Betty, by the way. trained to become a secretary, a holiday in Italy turned her attention to the stage. where she became a professional some 13

years ago. She has not returned to Australia since, but has gone on quietly in England, making her film debut in 1931 — opposite Jan Kiepura, if I remember aright. Then there's the Adelaide-born girl Janet Johnson. We haven't heard as much of Janet as we hoped. She went to England, played secoiW lead in a Cicely Courtneidge film, fn a surpris ingly short time after her arrival, was signed for Hollywood with a great fanfare of trumpets spent six long, weary months in the Ameri can film capital, and then shook the dust of Hollywood from her shoes, without having played one part. That fascinating enigma, Merle Oberon, remains an unknown quan tity. Her birthplace is variously given as Tasmania and India, al though she is generally accepted as an Australian. Most of her growing up years were spent in India; in 1931 she was 'hostess' in a London night club, when that bespectacled genius Alexander Korda caught sight of her, put her into a very minor role in a somewhat minor film called Men of Tomorrow — you would not recognise the young exotic of today in the prim, somewhat dumpy young woman that Men of Tomorrow showed you — then conferred on her immortality by giving her the supreme opportunity of playing Ann Boleyn in his Private Life of Henry VIII. Merle became the

pet of London after that, and, in a more personal sense, the pet of Joseph Schenck, millionaire Ameri can film producer, to whom she be came engaged for a few short months after his divorce from his first wife, Norma Talmadge — now Mrs. George Jessel. But the Oberon-Schenck en gagement was broken, and Merle blossomed forth as a Goldwyn star, gaining much acclaim for her work in such successful films as These Three and Dark Angel. Apart from the question of Tasmania being her birthplace, Merle Oberon can scarcely thank Australia for her present place in films. * ? ? i^OMING nearer home, we have Marcia (Mascotte) Ralston, daughter of the late beloved John Ralston, Gilbert and Sullivan opera stalwart. Leaving Australia, where she was a J. C. Williamson dancer, some nine years ago, Marcia Ralston spent seven years simply as Mrs. Phil Harris, wife of the young Ameri can musician she met in the St. Kilda Palais, in Victoria. Then the grease paint stirred in her veins, and she got herself a contract with Warner Bros., for whom she played the se ductive young actress in Call It A Day. She has been suggested as a partner for Fred Astaire in his next film, but Joan Fontaine has won that coveted place. Australian films did nothing for Marcia Ralston, either. But they gave Jocelyn Howarth her big chance. One wonders now if the Sydney girl regrets it, since she had to face the disillusionment of the an nulment suit brought by her husband, film star George Brent, and the un pleasantness of her own divorce charges brought against her hand some husband. The same company that is now pushing Shirley Ann Richards for all it's worth gave Jocelyn Howarth her first step forward. She was just a shy extra girl on the outskirts of a crowd when director Ken Hall picked her out, and gave her the leading role in The Squatter's Daughter. Came further roles, and in no time at all Jocelyn Howarth had sailed away from Australia to look for big ger opportunities in America. Came a long period of waiting, but then the long-expected 'break' gave Jocelyn Howarth a contract with RKO Radio and a new name — Con stance Worth. Came picture after picture: only small ones, to be sure, but still the name of Constance Worth was well up towards the head of the cast. Came the annulment suit, the expiry of the contract. What next for the girl who once stood in Shirley Ann Richard's shoes? * ? ? tT APPIER has been the history of another Australian film company's protege — Mary Maguire. First we heard of her was the announcement from Brisbane that Charles Chauvel, then producing Heritage, had picked out an unknown youngster in Queens land to play Biddy, heroine of his pioneering production, and had signed her at a salary of £100 a working week. She was only 16 then, the convent-reared daughter of a well-known Brisbane hotel-keeper She was known as Peggy Maguire for Chauvel's film, and her youthful freshness, allied to great, dark eyes, made her one of the most charming period pieces in this Commonwealth prize-winning film. Next we heard of her was that she had been signed to play ingenue in the Gaumont-British Australian made film. The Flying Doctor, in which Charles Farrell played lead. Margaret Vyner. now playing leads in English studios, also had her screen start in this Australian production. Miles Mander, who directed Flying Doctor, took a great interest in both the young Australians in the cast. Various influences set to work to bring Mary Maguire under the notice of the American film companies; al

most immediately. Flying Doctor was released a £100-a-week offer was cabled the Australian girl by Warner Brothers. She ac cepted, went over with her father — who, says she, chooses all her clothes for her — and was put to work in That's Man's Here Again, a minor role, which must be looked on as a pre paratory school for the bigger roles destined for this brown-eyed Austra lian girl. She recently played the leading feminine role in Alcatraz. Shirley Ann is the only one to have put her entire trust in Austra lia's fast-growing industry. ? * * A LTHOUGH she looks quite a sophisticate in formal clothes and might pass for a member of the Bright Young Things in good stand ing, she is actually a typical Austra lian youngster in manner and mind. She is much younger than she looks, by the way; her heavy, dark hair, and her well-formed figure and features give her a maturity that her years don't warrant. She was only a schoolgirl really when she won her first great chance. Only daughter of the late Mr. Mor timer Richards and Mrs. Marion Richards, of Neutral Bay, Sydney, she was educated at Ascham, through which most of Sydney's debutantes have passed, and at the Garden School, Mosman. She was tremendously keen on sport, as every good Australian should be. and emerged from school an ex cellent swimmer and fencer. But she wasn't just a sports girl; there is quite a keen brain beneath her placid brow, and she has a strong instinct for the good in literature. Just now she is passing through the Swinburne stage —and who doesn't at 19? There is always a copy of the passionate poet in her dressing room, and she loves to roll his sounding phrases round in her own pretty speech. ? ? * CHE was fortunate to come upon the cinema scene with she did. Cinesound was looking for a leading lady for Cecil Kellaway's It Isn't Done. It had experimented with im porting one: it had lost Jocelyn How arth to America; Mary Maguire had gone that way, too; the outlook was not over promising. Of course, play ers could always be imported. Trouble was, the best ones couldn't afford to come; the has-beens, (to put it brutally) were not entirely accept able to the public. Besides, Cine sound had come to the conclusion that its best policy, from any standpoint, was to develop its own stars, rather than to bring them from overseas. For one thing, it was impossible to give a film a distinctively Australian character if the leading woman were not an Australian; for another, youth and freshness were equally as much to be desired as the passe charms of an overseas player. So when Shirley Ann Richards, with her youth, her charm, her natu rally attractive voice, and her air of good-breeding came along Cine sound was instantly responsive. She vindicated director Hall's judgment by her smooth, attractive performance in It Isn't Done. She also vindicated Cinesound\s sound training school for its potential stars; it was scarcely credible that this was her first appearance on the screen. She was such a gorgeously graceful young thing, so soothing to the eye, so restrained in manner, with such a nice little flair for comedy and a most dextrous way of handling her dialogue. The critics acclaimed her; the public liked her; Cinesound promptly put her under contract, an arrangement wheh pleased equally Cinesound executives and little Miss Richards herself. She gets a splendid chance in Tall Timbers now, and is

lifted to the dignity of co-star with the musical comedy lead Frank Leigh ton. She is also receiving that other distinction of the cinema great — fan mail and requests for autographed photographs. Kindly soul that she is, she endeavors to see that no well meant letter of appreciation goes un answered. And modestly she says: — 'I think the reason is to be found not so much in my own personality, but in the fact that the generous hearted Australians are delighted to see an Australian girl getting her chance. I am 100 per cent. Australian — I have not even travelled outside Australia.' ? * * ^HE is loyal enough to add: — 'Whatever success may accrue will come to me as a graduate of Austra lian motion picture production. So far she has not received a pro posal of marriage by letter; many of her letters, indeed, come from girls. Which, if one may believe the wise acres, is a very, very sure index of popularity at the box-office. There is never a screen player yet who has gone very far or sustained a career with a predominantly masculine fol lowing. The business of being a star makes a good many demands on Shirley Ann Richards' time and poise. Cinesound expects a good deal of its players. Its attitude toward its people is this: — Is this man or girl capable of being a public figure — is he or she intelligent enough to carry out the strenuous job of being an ambassador for Austra lian films? — does the player possess tact, good manners, balance, and the ability to learn and keen on learn ing? — Can we rely on the fact that this player will uphold stardom with dignity and unaffected ease? That's asking too much, you say. But is it? Remember, a film star is a very precious commodity to the company who holds the contract; it costs a tremendous amount of patience and a small fortune in money to make a star: would any sound busi ness man (and, after all, the people who make our pictures must be good business men) invest heavily in a commodity of which he was unsure — that might betray him in his rela tions to the public? Personal contact being the close thing, it is between film player and public in Australia, it is essential that the mantle of stardom be given only to one who can be trusted to wear it with distinction. * ? ? CHIRLEY Ann Richards, for all her youth, has carried out her 'am- bassadorial' duties with remarkable poise. She has just concluded a per sonal appearance tour in Brisbane, where Tall Timbers had its premiere; she has been guest of honor at in numerable functions in Sydney. at which she has most successfully hid den her natural nervousness and has blossomed out as quite a public speaker. One of the most important func tions she attended in the eastern States was a luncheon to many hun dreds of women; for half an hour she spoke on films to this critical audi ence, and. apart from a few notes jotted down, before she left her flat her talk was quite impromptu. Speaking of that flat, it is the pride of her young heart. Tangible guerdon of her stardom, she recently fur nished it. She designed her own bed room furniture, which is lacquered cream, to provide a delightful setting for her brunette beauty. A rose ruffled net bedspread with rose net hangings on a matching dressing table strikes a bold note of color. She loves flowers, and her dressing tables, either in her Sydney flat or at the studio, always has a bowl of flowers — perennial tribute to Australia's lovely 19-year-old '?ambassador.' '

SHIRLEY ANN RICHARDS, 19 -year-old Australian, is well on her way to stardom, after her work in It Isn't Done and Tall Tim bees. In the centre and at the right you see her as she appears with Frank Leighton in Cinesound' s Tall Timbers

SHIRLEY ANN RICHARDS, 19 -year-old Australian, is well on her way to stardom, after her work in It Isn't Done and Tall Tim bees. In the centre and at the right you see her as she appears with Frank Leighton in Cinesound' s Tall Timbers

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