The June Clyde Story

A few words on early talkie star June Clyde (Ina Parton, 1909-1987), whose screen career and name both seem like a mash up of June Haver and Andy Clyde. Billed as Baby Tetrazini, Clyde began performing in vaudeville with her sisters shortly after arriving in Arbuckle, California in 1916. Experience there and with stock companies prepared her for a screen career, as did a stint in the chorus of .the Duncan Sisters’ Eva and Topsy act in 1925.

After a couple of bit parts Clyde achieved third billing in her third film, the RKO comedy Tanned Legs (1929) with Arthur Lake and Ann Pennington, with music by Oscar Levant. Other early stuff you could see her in included The Cuckoos (1930) with Wheeler and Woolsey, a couple of Humanettes shorts (1930) with Benny Rubin, and Moonlight and Monkey Business (1930) with Henry Armetta (from The Big Store) and Edgar Kennedy. In 1930, she married Thornton Freeland, director of Eddie Cantor’s first talkie feature Whoopee! (1930). She then went on to do pictures like Arizona (1931) with John Wayne and Laura La Plante, The Cohens and Kellys in Hollywood (1932) with George Sidney and Charlie Murray, and A Study in Scarlet (1933) with Reginald Owen as Sherlock Holmes. In 1932 she was voted a WAMPAS Baby Star, the same year as Ginger Rogers.

For a number of years, Clyde juggled West End and Broadway stage shows and British and American movies, even while her husband directed well-known pictures like Flying Down to Rio (1933), George White’s Scandals (1934) and Brewster’s Millions (1935). On Broadway you could see her in Hooray for What (1937-38) with Ed Wynn and Vivian Vance, and Banjo Eyes (1941) with Eddie Cantor. Later films included things like School for Husbands (1937) with Rex Harrison, and Country Fair (1941) with Eddie Foy Jr.

In the ’40s a lot of Clyde’s pictures were with Poverty Row outfits, but by the ’50s she began get back into the mainstream, though in smaller parts. Her last two pictures were for interesting: she played Lottie Gilson in the Vesta Tilley bio-pic After the Ball, and had a small role in the notorious Joan Crawford picture The Story of Esther Costello, both in 1957. All told, Clyde was in 64 films over nearly three decades. Clyde and Freeland both died within months of each other in Ft. Lauderdale, 30 years after her retirement.

To learn more about vaudeville, please see No Applause, Just Throw Money: The Book That Made Vaudeville Famous, and for more on classic comedy please read Chain of Fools: Silent Comedy and Its Legacies from Nickelodeons to Youtube.