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Cora Sue Collins

Cora Sue Collins was born in Beckley, West Virginia. A chubby-cheeked, curly-haired child actress, she was nudged (or, rather, propelled) into show business by her ambitious mother. Though she was heavily in demand during the 1930s, Cora never posed a serious threat as a rival to Shirley Temple. Much of her popularity stemmed from her uncanny, histrionic talent of being able to cry on demand. Cora appeared in her first film, The Strange Case of Clara Deane (1932), at five. Clark Gable’s first wife, Josephine Dillon, was her voice coach.

Cora enjoyed a succession of small acting parts throughout the first half of the decade, by 1934 earning a respectable $250 a week. That year, she appeared in eleven films. Hand-picked by Greta Garbo to play the star’s younger self in Queen Christina (1933), she developed a long-standing friendship with Garbo, as well as with Lucille Ball and other established stars, later saying “I was never intimidated by them because they were all actors, just like me.”

One of Cora’s notable performances was as the illegitimate daughter of Colleen Moore’s Hester Prynne in The Scarlet Letter (1934). New York Times reviewer Andre Sennwald found her performance in the crime drama Evelyn Prentice (1934) “agreeable…in spite of the pretty-pretty lines with which the script writers…loaded her.” Cora also commanded a rare leading role as the juvenile delinquent daughter of a court judge in Youth on Trial (1945). Soon after, in the wake of a small supporting part in Week-End at the Waldorf (1945), she left showbiz at the tender age of 18.

Post-Hollywood, Cora studied architecture and then lived the life of a socialite in Mexico for some years, hosting lavish parties. She was married three times, respectively to Ivan Stauffer, wealthy owner of a ranch in Nevada, to James Morgan Cox, and to a Phoenix theatre owner named Harry Nace.

Sunday, April 21
12:00 pm - 1:15 pm
Chinese Multiplex House 4