June Travis: From Baseball to B Movies

Based on this poster, shouldn’t the film have been called “Circus Underwear”?

The film career of June Travis (June Grabiner, 1914-2008) was surpassingly brief and so shall this post be. Travis was only in movies for three years (1935-38), but a few of those films touch on some of our favorite content areas, so we thought we’d give her a shout-out.

Travis was the daughter of Chicago White Sox Vice President Harry Grabiner. A film exec spotted her at a game, and suggested a screen test. She passed and after a brief period of indecision began playing bit roles, which grew gradually to leads. We first became aware of her because she is in three Joe E. Brown pictures (ironically none of them are his famous baseball comedies): Bright Lights (1935), Earthworm Tractors (1936) and The Gladiator (1938). With Joe Penner, she appeared in Go Chase Yourself and Mr. Doodle Kicks Off, both 1938. She played opposite Ronald Reagan in his first starring role in Love Is in the Air (1937). Circus Girl (1937) is one of those old trapeze artist love triangles of the type found in such pictures as The Greatest Show on Earth and Trapeze. Betty Compson and Charles Murray are among the cast for that one. She’s also in the boxing picture The Kid Comes Back (1938) with Slapsie Maxie, and the first screen adaptation of Little Orphan Annie (1938).

After a mere 30 movies, Travis retired, although she emerged twice in later years to take roles in the films The Star (1952, with Bette Davis), and the self-explanatory Monster A Go-Go (1965). There’s nothing like emerging from retirement purely in order to tarnish your reputation!