June Lang: Married to the Mob

June Lang (Winifred June Vlasek, 1917-2005) started out performing in amateur theatricals in her native Minneapolis from age five. Two years later her family had moved to Los Angeles and June went professional, performing with the Meglin Kiddies in vaudeville. She attended the Hollywood Professional School and began dancing in choruses in revues at presentation houses like the Orpheum from as young as age 13. For one show, The Temptations of 1930, Lang falsely claimed to be 18 years old.

A little quick math reveals that Lang was only 14 when she began appearing as an extra in films in 1931. By the following year, she got her real first role, in Chandu the Magician. The fresh-faced, innocent looking kid appeared in many films we now consider comedy or show biz classics, such as Music in the Air (1934), George White’s 1935 Scandals, Bonnie Scotland (1936) with Laurel and Hardy, The Country Doctor (1936) with the Dionne Quintuplets, two Shirley Temple movies (Captain January [1936] and Wee Willie Winkie [1937]), Ali Baba Goes to Town (1937) with Eddie Cantor, Zenobia (1939) with Oliver Hardy and Harry Langdon, Footlight Serenade (1942), Stage Door Canteen (1943), and Three of a Kind (1944) with Billy Gilbert, Shemp Howard and Maxie Rosenbloom.

In 1939 Lang married gangster Johnny Rosselli and backed out of a film she was supposed to have made in wartime London. This irked her studio, Fox, which released her from her contract. Going forward her parts in mainstream films were much smaller, although she continued to get bigger roles at smaller studios like Hal Roach and Monogram through 1944. She divorced Rosselli in 1943. Her last starring role was in the independent film Lighthouse in 1947. After this she is said to have worked in the production office of Bryan Foy from 1947 through 1950 (the years of Eagle Lion). After Eagle Lion folded, she worked in television as an actress in fits and starts during the following years: 1950-53, 1961-62 and 1968.

To find out more about history of vaudeville, where June Lang got her start, please investigate No Applause, Just Throw Money: The Book That Made Vaudeville Famous, available at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and wherever brassy books are sold.