Boots Mallory: Starred in “Carnival Lady”

For someone whose screen footprint was so small, and whose life was so short, Patricia “Boots” Mallory (1913-1958) managed to cram a lot of interesting stuff anyway.

Born in New Orleans and raised in Mobile, Mallory started out as a model and Broadway chorus girl in shows like George White’s Scandals (1928) and the Ziegfeld Follies of 1931. Her very first film was Hello, Sister (1933), Erich Von Stroheim’s screen adaptation of Dawn Powell’s Walking Down Broadway with James Dunn and Zasu Pitts. It was racy Pre-Code stuff, shot in 1931 but not released until two years later, after two other Mallory vehicles had been released, Handle with Care (1932) with Dunn, and Humanity (1932) with Ralph Morgan and Irene Ware. Meantime she was named a WAMPAS Baby Star in 1932, and married James Cagney’s brother William. That was a heady couple of years!

Despite the impressive start, Mallory’s screen career quickly cooled off, though. Her subsequent pictures were few and all B movies. She co-starred in The Wolf Dog (1933) with Frankie Darro and Rin Tin Tin, Carnival Lady (1933) and The Big Race (1934), and had supporting parts in Sing Sing Nights (1934), Powdersmoke Range (1935), and Here’s Flash Casey (1938). She’s an uncredited dancer in the Laurel and Hardy picture Swiss Miss (1938). Between pictures she worked on radio, appearing on Lux Radio Theatre in 1936 and 1939. I’m pretty sure Carnival Lady, with its midway setting is what put her on my radar!

In 1940 Cagney began working as a producer and Mallory stopped acting. In 1947 the pair divorced and Mallory married actor Herbert Marshall. She was only 45 when she died of lung cancer in 1958.

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