Arline Judge: Almost as Many Marriages as Movies

Bridgeport-born Arline Judge (1912-1974) studied dance with Jack Donohue, which led to her performing professionally in vaudeville and nightclubs. She is said to have danced in Jimmy Durante’s nightclub act and in a revue called The Second Little Show, where she was spotted by a Hollywood talent scout.

The same year her movie career was launched (1931) she married director Wesley Ruggles. Initially, she was an extra, but she quickly worked her way up to better supporting parts. She’s in Girl Crazy (1932) with Wheeler and Woolsey; by the time of Joseph Santley’s vaudeville-themed Million Dollar Baby (1934) she gets occasional star billing. She appeared opposite Jack Oakie in three films: Looking for Trouble (1934), Shoot the Works (1934), and King of Burlesque (1936). She’s also in George White’s 1935 Scandals, College Scandal (1935), Pigskin Parade (1936),  and One in a Million (1936). (She’s in many more melodramas as well, sometimes starring in them, but our principal lookout here is comedy and vaudeville). In the pictures of the Pre-Code period she tended to play “naughty girls”, often the naughtier friend of the lead. Along the way she got to work with directors like Ruggles, Gregory La Cava, William A. Seiter, and William Wellman.

In 1937 Judge divorced Ruggles and married Daniel Topping, owner of the Brooklyn Dodgers FOOTBALL team, only a few hours later. (Topping would later co-own the NY Yankees). During the time of their marriage Judge withdrew from films. The pair divorced in 1940, then she returned to the business.

In the ’40 she starred in low budget B movies, starting with Harvard, Here I Come, with Slapsie Maxie Rosenbloom, in late 1941. Next came Law of the Jungle (1942), directed by Jean Yarborough (to give you an idea of the level of this one, the poster features Mantan Moreland and a guy in a gorilla suit), She fared a little better in the comedy The Lady is Willing (1942) with Marlene Dietrich, Fred MacMurray and Aline McMahon (she is fifth billed). Later came Two Mugs from Brooklyn (1942) with William Bendix and Max Baer. and Edgar Ulmer’s Girls in Chains (1943). Her last film of this period is The Sin of Harold Diddlebock (1947), in which she has a spot in the ensemble as a manicurist.

At this point she was on to her SIXTH husband, Bob Topping, brother of her previous husband Dan. As during the previous Topping marriage she appears to have retired for a time to concentrate on matrimony. But this second Topping marriage lasted a year. Bob went on to marry Lana Turner, who, like Judge, was married and divorced eight times. Judge next married husband #7 George Ross III for a year and a half (1949-50). In the window between this and her next marriage, Judge appeared in a 1953 episode of Mr. and Mrs. North, her first television work.

From 1955 through 1960, she was married to eighth husband Edward Cooper Heard. After which, a new phase of her career. She gets star billing in the teen-oriented A Swingin’ Affair (1963) with William Wellman Jr. and guitar god Dick Dale. She also has a role in the horror classic The Crawling Hand (1963). Her last credit was a 1964 episode of Perry Mason; and after that, some commercial work.

To learn about the history of vaudeville, where Arline Judge got her start, please see No Applause, Just Throw Money: The Book That Made Vaudeville Famous,