Linda Darnell, unknown date.
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Linda Darnell
Forecourt Ceremony held on Monday, March 18, 1940
Born: Monetta Eloyse Darnell, October 16, 1923, in Dallas, Texas
Age at the time of the ceremony: 16
Died: April 10, 1965, in Chicago, Illinois, age 41
Linda Darnell was among the first of the leading ladies to emerge during the 1940s. After a career as a model, she sought out film work at a very young age, then became a leading lady. Never really given a chance to carry a picture by herself, the closest she came was in Forever Amber (1947). She died tragically young.

Monetta was born into an unhappy marriage in Dallas, Texas. Her mother Pearl had a vision for her daughter: to become a movie star. Ignoring her other children, Pearl had Monetta trained in dance and singing. The young girl enjoyed the lessons and attention. By age eleven, she was earning a living as a model. At thirteen, she made her stage debut with the Dallas Little Theatre's production of Murder in the Cathedral.

A talent scout for 20th Century-Fox caught sight of the young girl in late 1937, and two months later, she and Pearl found themselves in Hollywood. She made a screen test, but was not offered a contract because she was "too young."

After a slight detour at R-K-O, Darnell was finally offered the lead role in Hotel for Women (which played the Chinese in August, 1939) as Loretta Young, then reigning queen of the Fox lot, wanted too much money to do the picture. Although Linda was only fifteen, she and Pearl told everyone she was seventeen, while the studio passed her off as being nineteen. She was given a supporting role in Drums Along the Mohawk, but was pulled out of the show because the role wasn't prominent enough suddenly. Linda Darnell was on her way.

Darnell came to be closely associated with Tyrone Power. The very next film to play the Chinese after Drums was their first pairing, Day-Time Wife (which played the Chinese in November, 1939). Reviewers noted her youth, but also suggested that she was a perfect foil for the male stars she would be playing with, as well as being easy on the eyes. Life magazine declaired that she was "the most physically perfect girl in Hollywood," which was saying a lot.

Yes, Darnell had made quite an impression. with only the one picture done, she was invited out to have her Forecourt ceremony. Darnell's own story formed the basis of her next starring vehicle, Star Dust (which played the Chinese in April, 1940). Darnell appeared again with Power in Brigham Young (played the Chinese in September, 1940), and The Mark of Zorro (played in November, 1940). Darnell was kept very busy.

She co-starred with Henry Fonda in Chad Hanna (which played the Chinese in Janaury, 1941), which underperformed at the box-office. So they put her back with Ty Power in Blood and Sand, (which played the Chinese in May, 1941) and became a huge hit.

Despite all of this, Darnell found herself at a strange impasse. She had been scheduled to work in several projects, but got bumped by other actresses who were up and coming at Fox. She had a supporting role in Rise and Shine (which played the Chinese in December, 1941), but spent more time selling bonds for World War II than she spent in front of the cameras. There was considerable talk that she was being given the cold-shoulder because she wouldn't sleep with studio chief Darryl F. Zanuck. On a loanout to Columbia, she headlined in City Without Men (released in January, 1943), and played a double role with Dick Powell in It Happened Tomorrow (released by United Artists in February, 1944).

She played a supporting role in Buffalo Bill (which played the Chinese in April, 1944), then took a chance playing a man-eating she-devil in Summer Storm (released by United Artists in July, 1944), and she suddenly found herself a pin-up bad girl. She followed this up with Hangover Square (released in October, 1945). She was cast in the noir film Fallen Angel (which played the Chinese in December, 1945), which annoyed co-star Alice Faye, so there was a good deal of politics going on on the Fox lot.

But Darnell enjoyed a bit of a resurgence with third-billing in Anna and the King of Siam (which had its premiere at the Chinese in July, 1946), fouth-billed in Centennial Summer (Played the Chinese in September, 1946), and co-starred with Henry Fonda in My Darling Clementine (played in October, 1946). This was followed by her one true star vehicle, Forever Amber (played in October, 1947). The film was a disappointment, however. She reach a zeinith with Unfaithfully Yours (played in December, 1948), and A Letter to Three Wives (played in February, 1949).

Darnell truged along. She seems to have played a lot of "bad girl" roles at Fox, then the studio let her go. After trying to make pictures in Italy, everything seemed to backfire on her. She drank more than usual. Her husband at the time, Philip Liebmann, suggested Darnell take a break. When she returned, she guest-starred on a string of television programs: Wagon Train (1958), Cimarron City (1958), 77 Sunset Strip (1959), Burke's Law (1964), and was planning on making her stage debut when she was badly burned in a house fire at the home of a friend. She died from the burns. She was 41 years old.
Caption TK
Grauman's Chinese Theatre, Hollywood, California. Linda Darnell Forecourt ceremony, Monday, March 18, 1940. Linda Darnell puts her fininishing touch on her signature before placing her handprints into the cement.
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