Thursday, March 30, 2023

Rochelle Hudson - new biography by David C. Tucker

Rochelle Hudson is the subject of David C. Tucker’s latest book, “largely because she deserved one.”

Miss Hudson’s career began in 1930 when she was still in her teens.  A 1931 WAMPAS Baby Star, the bulk of her film work occurred in the 1930s, when her roles ranged from sadder-but-wiser gun molls, nice girls, young brides, young mothers, tricksters and vamps, in an array of gangster films, action films set from the big city to the jungle, comedies, convict stories, and melodramas.   A beautiful actress, who could also sing and dance, nevertheless her career dwindled in the 1940s and her starring roles were usually in B-pictures; her finer films usually saw her in supporting parts. 

The author notes, “Even during her lifetime, however, there was a sense that she had been underappreciated.  By the mid-1940s, when her career was past its peak, columnist Ed Sullivan lamented (in 1944) -- “Rochelle Hudson should have been a much huger success.  She had everything.”

It’s a forlorn thought, but when picking through her films, as Mr. Tucker does so well, we see there are gems to remember her by most fondly:  As Shirley Temple’s big sister in Curly Top (1935), paired romantically with John Boles, she sings “The Simple Things in Life.”

Other important roles occurred in Imitation of Life (1934) as Claudette Colbert’s daughter, Les Misérables (1935) as Cozette with Fredric March, and four films with Will Rogers, the last released just after his tragic death.  She has a minor role in Rebel Without a Cause (1955).

I found it delightful to discover that she also, at least on some occasions, supplied the cartoon voice of Honey in the series of Bosko cartoons in the early Looney Toons from Warner Bros.  I excitedly mentioned this to my cartoonist twin brother, but he already knew.  He always already knows anything about cartoons.  (We have a set of cute ceramic Pilgrim figures, a boy and a girl, purchased decades ago in Plymouth, Mass., and though they look nothing like the cartoon characters, John immediately dubbed them Bosko and Honey.  It never fails that, taking them out of the box every November, one or the other of us will shout, “Hel-l-o-o, Bosko!”)

Okay.  Back to Rochelle.

Mr. Tucker has written several Hollywood biographies (listed below), and the reader will always learn something new.  What I especially enjoy is examining the twists and turns of a Hollywood career through the nuts-and-bolts information on life in the film industry, including contemporaneous critical reviews of movies and a look at what was happening at the same time in Hudson’s life. Mr. Tucker is meticulous and thorough.

Miss Hudson also starred in a short-lived TV sitcom, That’s My Boy (1954-1955) and she noted in an interview on the sometimes difficult irony of pursuing a television career when at the same time her much younger self was being shown in old movies on TV.  It’s an issue I’ve often wondered about, how film stars of the Golden Age, still working, were almost in competition with their younger selves and always needing to measure up to that more glamorous image.

The book contains a complete and detailed filmography, preceded by a biography that includes information on her personal life, with many great photos.  It can be purchased here at the McFarland website.

Have a look below for my posts on David C. Tucker’s previous books on Gale Storm and S. Sylvan Simon.  Also below is a list of links where you can purchase Mr. Tucker’s other books.


Another Old Movie Blog: Review of Gale Storm: A Biography and Career Record by David C. Tucker

Another Old Movie Blog: An interview with author David C. Tucker - Gale Storm: A Biography and Career Record

Another Old Movie Blog: Review: S. Sylvan Simon, Moviemaker - David C. Tucker's new book


Other books by David C. Tucker: 

Gale Storm: A Biography and Career Record

Martha Raye: Film and Television Clown

Eve Arden: A Chronicle of All Film, Television, Radio and Stage, Performances

Shirley Booth: A Biography and Career Record

Joan Davis: America’s Queen of Film, Radio and Television Comedy

Lost Laughs of ‘50s and ‘60s Television

Pine-Thomas Productions: A History and Filmography


Have a look here at David C. Tucker’s blog

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