Born 100 Years Ago Today: The Wilde Twins

Born on October 10, 2022: Lee and Lyn Wilde: The Wilde Twins. Singers, movies actresses, and pin-up models, the sisters were most active during the 1940s.

The girls grew up in East St. Louis Illinois (across the river from St. Louis, Missouri). They were still in high school when they began singing on radio and performing with bands. Upon graduation they went professional and enjoyed instant success as a result of a gimmick you couldn’t buy. They sang with the bands of Charlie Barnet and Bob Crosby, and appeared with Gloria Jean and Thurl Ravenscroft in a 1941 short called Jingles Belles, teamed with singer Lou Sidwell in a trio called Lee, Lyn and Lou. The following year the twins performed in their first feature Juke Box Jenny (1942) with Harriet Hilliard and Ken Murray. With Bob Crosby’s Orchestra they appeared in Reveille with Beverly with Ann Miller, and Presenting Lily Mars with Judy Garland, both in 1943. They weren’t the titular two girls in Two Girls and a Sailor (1944); those were June Allyson and Gloria DeHaven. They were still playing themselves in that one.

But then the unlikely happened: the Wilde Twins began to get cast in roles. They played a set of nubile blonde twins in Andy Hardy’s Blonde Trouble (1944). They actually STARRED in Twice Blessed (1945), which has that hoary old twin plot about twins separated at birth, one vivacious and fun-loving, the other bookish and shy. Then they come into close proximity, and, oh the confusion! In 1946 they did a singing turn in the all-star ‘Til the Clouds Roll By. This was the last of the MGM period that had begun with Lily Mars. For Republic they starred in Campus Honeymoon (1947). Their last film role as a team was in the 1949 Marilyn Miller bio-pic Look for the Silver Lining, playing two of the stars sisters.

By this juncture, both sisters had married a pair of brothers, Jim and Tom Cathcart. Lee retired to focus on family, but Lyn continue as a solo for another five years. She was a bit player on her own, but you can see her in the westerns Tucson and The Sheriff of Wichita (both 1949) and the musicals Show Boat (1951), Singin’ in the Rain (1952), Has Anybody Seen My Gal (1952), The Belle of New York (1952), and The Girl Next Door (1943).

The sisters would occasionally get together and sing in public after this, and in 1989, they recorded an album: Back to Together Once Again. Lee died in 2015, Lyn the following year. For more, much more, beyond your wildest dreams about the Wilde Twins, see Hometowns to Hollywood, here.

For more on show business history, please read No Applause, Just Throw Money: The Book That Made Vaudeville Famous.