Saturday, February 21, 2009

Who Was Florine McKinney?


Who is this woman? She's Florine McKinney, that's who. Who? Florine McKinney. I found this MGM picture of her a couple of years ago and never followed up on what this actress ever did. In fact, when I went to retrieve the photo from the Hollywood Dreamland "archives", I failed to even remember her name, typing it as Florence McKinney. She seemed destined for obscurity. She still is, but not entirely. It turns out that McKinney (1909-1975) was a glorified extra in a handful of movies in the 1930s and 1940s, including my beloved The Philadelphia Story. And as many times as I've seen that movie, I cannot recall Miss McKinney's appearance as the "Main Line Society Woman." She also had an uncredited bit in the Marx Brothers' Horse Feathers (1932). Her final film appearance (at age 33) was in a Johnny Mack Brown entry, 1942's Little Joe, the Wrangler, where she even got to play a character with a name, Mary Brewster. And that was the end of Florine McKinney's movie career.

Florine McKinney lived to be 65 and it got me thinking as to what stories she may have had to tell about her small taste of Hollywood. What this girl from the town of Mart, Texas did to leave her hometown to head for the promise of fame in Tinsel Town. I guess I'll never know, but the fact that this photo exists enabled me to become aware of her contribution to one of my favorite movies, however small it may be. I just would have liked to hear her story and know of her experiences in those heady days of Hollywood.

18 comments:

  1. I always enjoy looking at the lesser credits at the end of a film and then going on imdb.com to see what else they may have done. There were so many working actors/actresses that popped up everywhere but never became stars. Wonderful photograph of Ms. McKinney.

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  2. Another great post! I've never heard of her but she's sure beautiful. Maybe she's got a relative she gave a diary to or something.

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  3. There are so many obscure actors/actresses who probably have some wonderful stories to tell and never got the chance.

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  4. That photo I'm going to save to my computer and lock into a safe! God, she was beautiful! In that natural way.

    Tell me! WHERE is she in The Philadelphia Story? WHERE is she in Horse Feathers? I've seen those films a hundred times! Frustrating!

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  5. Robby: You and me both, pal. Ever hear of Bess Flowers? Look her up and discover everything she's done!

    Trixie: You remain my biggest fan (and I, yours).

    John: Oral history projects are so important to learning about the big picture and I wonder if there are any out there on 1930s Hollywood.

    Lolita: I was surprised to learn that she was only an extra! I guess high-gloss photos are nothing new. I'm going to watch TPS this week and try and find her; she may not even be visible!

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  6. She was gorgeous! Amazing. I wish she had done a lot more acting.

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  7. Florine McKinney was my grandmother's cousin. I live now in my grandmother's home and there are pictures of her floating around here someplace. I was looking for more information about "aunt Flo", as i have always known her, and am delighted to find that she is not forgotten. My name is angela and my grandmother was ruth mcnaught parman. the mcnaught sister's were famous around texas for their legs. and for my entire life have heard tell of the "McNaught sister's legs" being mentioned in one aunt Flo's movies. peace! angela

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    1. Hello, Angela. I remember Florine! I was an adolescent living at 3044 Motor Ave with my parents Sylvia and Lewis Shiell...aka "Doc" who was a dentist in Beverly Hills. I think Florine was a patient and they were friends. She was then married to Jim K. and i remember their house, then facing the golf course (Calif Country Club), perhaps the street was Forrester. They had a Chrysler Town & Country with really wood trim. Florine and my mother were friends, and she was always so sweet to me. (I now live in NYC, ...with memories. Out of nostalgia i was looking for Florine in Google and found this. Hope you receive and reply: frankshiell@gmail.com

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    2. I sent you reply....did you receive it? Frank Shiell, childhood neighbor of Florine (in Cheviot Hills) frankshiell@gmail.com

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  8. Angela: I'm thrilled that you found my small tribute to Florine McKinney. Please stay in touch! Perhaps you could write a follow-up piece here. Or maybe we could conduct an interview on what you've discovered.

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    1. Mr Haven: I remember Florine McKenney! In the late 40s I believe, i was an adolescent and neighbor (3044 Motor Ave) with my parents Sylvia and (Dr. Lewis) Shiell aka "Doc", dentist ("to the stars") in Beverly Hills.. I think florine ws a patient and she and my mother were dear friends. We used to go to their house in Cheviot Hills (facing olf course, Calif Country Club), i think street was Forrester. She was always so sweet to me. Married then to Jim K, they had 47? Chrysler Town & Country with real wood trim. Nostalgically i searched Florine in google and found this; also sent note to "Angela". I now live in NYC, at the other portion of a lifetime. I remember their friends and neighbors. Would love to hear from you frankshiell@gmail.com Best wishes.

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  9. I will absolutely stay in touch! am searching for more info about aunt flo. unfortunately all the mcnaught sister's have passed. but will ask other relatives still with us about her and keep you posted. interview? sure, but i need to find out more information about her. will let you know. by the way...nice tribute!! thanx much

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  10. Florine was my grandfather's cousin. Their mothers were sisters. When Florine passed, my grandfather settled her estate, so I have a number of her belongings. She was quite adamant that her things stay in the family. She had impeccable taste, of course, which is only fitting for such a beauty.

    I do know that she was an alchoholic, which may help explain why she never made it big. By the way, the part she played in Horse Feathers was that of the secretary.

    Angela, you must be related on her father's side. Do you know his name?

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  11. There is a mention of Florine McKinney on this blog today:-

    http://what-i-found.blogspot.com/2010/02/dorchester-hotel-presents-hollywood_22.html

    Seems like she spent some time in London. Her name caught my attention and research led me here. Thought you might be interested.

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  12. Thanks Nathalie! And a big thank you to Annie and Angela for piecing together this show business "mystery"! I'm looking forward to more insight on Miss McKinney.

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  13. She also played the lead in a strange movie called "Night Life of the Gods" which is a story by Thorne Smith (who became famous because of the Cary Grant Topper movies, but he's also responsible for writing the book that would become the movie "I Married a Witch" which became the TV series "Bewitched." But back to Florine McKinney: I've been looking for a copy of the movie for sometime, but have not been able to find it anywhere. Thanks for the great picture and the great discussion.

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  14. Just discovered this great site today and glad to see mention of Florine McKinney, who (as Rob mentioned) was in Universal's 1935 film version of Night Life of the Gods.

    The film has never been released in any home video format although there are bootleg copies floating about that are not worth the money being charged for it.

    I did manage to find someone who posted a short 3 minute clip from the film on YouTube and added it to my Thorne Smith site here:

    Night life of the Gods movie clip

    Hope the family finds out more info about Ms McKinney. It'd be great to be able to learn more about her.

    Michael

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  15. Hi,
    I live in Texas and am a huge McKinney fan. Would one of the relatives please send me an email? I would love to preserve what history there is left on her, as much information as there is. Thanks so much. jaredcphot @ yahoo . com

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