Viewing Virginia Carroll

Having done ten posts about stars with the first name of Virginia and about a dozen with the last name of Carroll we must observe that Virginia Carroll (1913-2009) is a likely name for a film actor, if perhaps not an original one. That might amount to a criticism if the woman in question had selected it, but it was, quite conveniently, her given name.

The comely Carroll was working as a mannequin (or department store model) at I. Magnin’s in L.A.’s Biltmore Hotel when discovered by RKO scouts. She initially had walk-ons as chorus girls and models in such films as Sweet Adeline (1934) with Irene Dunne; Roberta (1935) with the quartet of Dunne, Randolph Scott and Astaire & Rogers; George White’s 1935 Scandals, and Women of Glamor (1937) starring Virginia Bruce (there’s that name again!) 1936 may have been her best and most promising year for she co-starred in the independent western comedy A Tenderfoot Goes West with Russell Gleason and Jack La Rue, and she married one of the supporting players in that film Ralph Byrd, who later went on to star as Dick Tracy in a series of B movies. Carroll only appeared in one film in that series, Dick Tracy Returns (1938). In 1939 she was the female lead in Monogram’s Oklahoma Terror (1939) with Jack Randall and Al St John. In 1940 she had a good sized supporting role in the classic “A” picture Waterloo Bridge with Vivien Leigh and Robert Taylor, so she was still on a pretty good roll. For a few years she would play female leads in B movies westerns like The Phantom Cowboy (1941) with Red Barry, Raiders of the West (1942) with Bill Boyd, Prairie Gunsmoke (1942) with Tex Ritter; and second leads in The Masked Rider (1941) with Johnny Mack Brown and Fuzzy Knight, and Overland Trails (1948) with Brown. In 1944, her daughter was born, which seems to have curtailed her career somewhat, as she mostly played non-speaking roles after that. One of the notable ones she appeared in during that period was Pickup on South Street (1953). She worked steadily in television throughout the early ’50s. She was on The Roy Rogers Show a half dozen times, among numerous other programs. Her final screen credit (out of 83) was a 1965 episode of the TV series The Long Hot Summer.

For more on show biz history, please see No Applause, Just Throw Money: The Book That Made Vaudeville Famous