1/17/18

'HOLLYWOOD BOOGIE': A SOUNDIE BY THELMA WHITE



Apropos of yesterday's post about Jean Porter Dmytryk in which I included a 'soundie' (a musical short made for playing on a jukebox) I've posted above another soundie. This one features Thelma White and her All-Girl orchestra, though the sax player seen at 1:48 looks suspiciously like Tony Curtis or Jack Lemmon sitting in for the night. It's quite impressive that White and Phil Spitale (male leader of another all-girl orchestra) were able to find so much female talent to fill a big band and that's not meant to be a sexist remark. How many women in the 30s or 40s trained to play trumpet, trombone, sax, drums or bass?

Who was Thelma White? She was an actress who is best known (and frankly only known) for being the co-star of 'Reefer Madness', the 1936 anti-marijuana tract. Originally titled 'Tell Your Children', the film was a complete flop in its day and led to White giving up acting and somehow cooking up the idea to organize and front an all-girl orchestra. When the film resurfaced in the early 70's, some wiseass film programmer saw its comedic potential, retitled it 'Reefer Madness' and allowed all of us to have a few laughs watching it on our college campuses while sucking on the Thaistick. White died in 2005, age 94 and when asked about how she felt about the movie's later success said, "I'm ashamed to say it's the only film I made that anyone will remember".

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