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Movie star mystery photo

January 17, 2009 |  9:00 am
Los Angeles Times photo

Our mystery star has more than 100 credits on imdb.
Update: These are pictures from the 1936 trial over the custody of Marilyn Astor Thorpe. Mary Astor charged that her ex-husband, Franklyn, wasn't a fit parent (he allegedly had women spend the night while his daughter was in his custody and was supposedly abusive to the girl)  and he made similar accusations. citing passages in her diary describing her affair with playwright George S. Kaufman. 

From left, Attorney Joseph Anderson, Franklyn Thorpe, attorney Ethel M. Pepin (that's the lady in the hat),  attorney A.P. Michael Narlian, attorney Roland Rich Woolley and Mary Astor. Ruth Chatterton is in the audience between Thorpe and Pepin. 


Los Angeles Times photograph
Several people have guessed correctly: Steven Bibb was first, followed by Mary Mallory, Nick Santa Maria and Jany. Congratulations! Here's another clue for everyone else.

At left, Mary Astor, Roland Richard Woolley and Ruth Chatterton
Los Angeles Times photograph
Today, we have a big clue to our mystery star. Imagine my surprise to find this in the archives.   Update: A page from Mary Astor's diary -- written in lavender ink.

Several more people have guessed correctly: Regular reader Dewey Webb and Jeff Hanna. Congratulations!

Many people talk about Mary Astor's diary. It was supposedly burned on orders of the judge. However I have been told by people who worked at the Examiner that Hearst photographed the whole thing. That's a story that I doubt will ever be verified but it shows what a big deal the diary was at the time.

Los Angeles Times photograph
And we have many more correct guesses. Congratulations to: Nathan Benedict, Carol Gwenn, Gregory Moore, "Zabadu," Pamela Porter, Richard Heft and "Laura" fan Waldo Lydecker.   

At left, Judge Goodwin Knight -- the future California governor -- with Lois Carpenter, 12, and Dorothy Carpenter, 6. Astor's diary surfaced during a child custody dispute.
Los Angeles Times photograph
Here's our mystery woman. Add Rance Ryan to the folks who have recognized her.

Isn't this a great picture of Mary Astor? She had just been awarded custody of her daughter Marilyn during the school year.
Los Angeles Times photograph
And yes, this is Mary Astor. I usually end the contests on Friday but I like the art so much I just had to go another day. People sometimes ask me why I run black and white pictures in color but the image at left shows why. The print happens to be a sort of sepia tone as if they didn't fix it long enough because they were in such a hurry to get it into the paper. I could clean it up digitally and make it nice with pure blacks and whites but to me that spoils the experience.

The outfit was blue taffeta, by the way.